Project summary


No image The Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB) maintains repositories containing decades of observation data from Belgian and European stations (EUREF public repository) permanently tracking Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS, e.g., GPS or Galileo). These data allow to precisely measure ground deformations, monitor space weather, study the influence of the atmospheric water vapor trend on climate, provide input for numerical weather predictions, etc. Although many users from different communities already use ROB's public EUREF repository, the procedures to find and access the data are rather complex and non-machine-readable. In addition, despite the fact that these GNSS data originate from a significant number of data providers (~100) and can be handled in different ways, provenance information is lacking. Data licenses are only seldom available and no data citation procedure is in place to recognize the merit of researchers providing the GNSS data.


The FAIR-GNSS project addresses these needs and aims to

  1. facilitate access and re-use of, and increase trust in, ROB’s GNSS data repositories;
  2. support the preservation of the GNSS data;
  3. contribute to the standardization of GNSS data citation;
  4. create a new, modern open data portal for European and Belgian GNSS data

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Hence, FAIR-GNSS will upgrade ROB’s GNSS data management procedures to align with current best practices in FAIR and Open Data. To achieve its goals, FAIR-GNSS will follow FAIR data principles to make data more Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable (FAIR). These principles serve as guidelines for making scientific data suitable for reuse, by both people and machines, under clearly defined conditions.


Researchers will benefit from the citation metrics associated to GNSS data, as it will easily show the impact of their research data while providing evidence of their usage. FAIR-GNSS’ enhanced data access procedures will enable scientists to easily identify and access those GNSS station data relevant for their specific needs and applications. Indeed, due to the ever-increasing number of GNSS stations, data access has nowadays become too complex and time consuming. In addition, FAIR-GNSS will supply interoperable GNSS data that are easy to integrate with other datasets (e.g., InSAR or seismic data) and will facilitate their discoverability within the European Plate Observing System (EPOS). In its practical applications, providing data provenance and adopting user licenses will also increase trust in the GNSS data and encourage Small and Medium Enterprises, industries, and start-ups to use these GNSS data and innovate. In short, by making GNSS data more readily available, accessible and citable, FAIR-GNSS will maximize ROB’s data re-use for multiple applications. FAIR-GNSS will present its results to conferences and/or via webinars and share experience on how to implement FAIR data principles by organising training events. Moreover, FAIR-GNSS will showcase FAIR-enabling data repositories to the international scientific GNSS community and engage it in adopting FAIR principles.

FAIR for GNSS data

FAIR Digital Objects

During this process, FAIR-GNSS will turn ROB’s GNSS data into FAIR Data Objects (FDO), add metadata such as the license of use and Persistent Identifiers (PID), e.g., using standardized metadata schemes. No image In addition, FAIR-GNSS will facilitate access to the data through the development of APIs (Application Program Interface).


Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) are most commonly used as persistent identifiers for data and enable to uniquely identify, trace and cite data. However, the use of PIDs varies within the community, namely DOI are used for stations (UNAVCO), while system handles are used for instruments (SEMISYS). DOI granularity, DOI for dynamic datasets and the assignment of DOIs to queries should also be considered.

Metadata standards

Various metadata schemes and standards are currently in use within the GNSS community. Commonly used formats to store metadata are the IGS site log (ASCII), GeodesyML, GeoJSON, KML and standards such as ISO Geographic information Metadata and Open Geospatial Consortium’s (OGC). A pragmatic approach will be taken to identify the minimal required metadata and metadata scheme. Furthermore, we will investigate current metadata standards and identify necessary adaptations or extensions to already available standards through discussions in the larger GNSS community.


The GNSS user community is accustomed to download GNSS (meta)data via FTP services and only very recently API, including web services, have started to be available. APIs enable machines to easily access the (meta)data, thus allowing automated data access requests. The API’s will be designed based on a landscape study to investigate e.g., in which format API results should be returned (JSON, JSON-LD, XML, …), existing resources allowing users to get RINEX data and the corresponding station metadata. In addition, interactions with stakeholders will allow us to identify the search criteria (API parameters) a user would prefer to use when searching or downloading GNSS data (RINEX).