Quality Assurance Framework for Earth Observation (QA4EO)
Introduction and Objectives
The Quality Assurance Framework for Earth Observation
was established and endorsed by
the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites as a direct response to a call from the Group
on Earth Observations. GEO
had identified the requirement to establish an internationally harmonised
Quality Assurance (QA) strategy to enable interoperability
and quality assessment “at face value” of EO data. QA4EO
encompasses a framework and set of ten key guidelines, derived from best practices and with example templates included to aid
implementation. Each GEO stakeholder community is responsible
for its own overall governance within the framework.
guidance to enable individual organisations to document,
in a consistent manner, the necessary evidence of compliance,
thereby allowing those commissioning the work to assess its adequacy
and “fitness for purpose”. QA4EO-compliant processes
would unequivocally assure data quality and would encourage
harmonisation across the whole GEO community.
QA4EO has been endorsed by CEOS as a contribution to facilitate
the GEO vision for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS). The aim of GEOSS is to deliver comprehensive and
timely knowledge/information products worldwide to meet the
needs of its nine “societal benefit areas”. This can only
be achieved through the synergistic use of data derived from
a variety of sources (satellite, airborne and in situ) and the coordination
of the resources and efforts of the GEO members.
To accomplish this vision, starting from a system of disparate
systems that were built for a multitude of applications, requires the establishment of an internationally coordinated operational
framework to facilitate interoperability and harmonisation.
success of this framework, in terms of data, is dependent upon
the successful implementation of two key principles:
1. Accessibility / Availability and
2. Suitability / Reliability.
Success also requires effective communication of these principles
to all stakeholders. To implement these principles in a harmonised
manner, CEOS (the space arm of GEO), through discussion
with calibration and validation experts from around the
world (see figure 2), established QA4EO to facilitate interoperability
of GEO systems.
QA4EO is based on the adoption of guiding
principles, which are implemented through a set of key operational
guidelines derived from best practices, for implementation
by the GEO community. Although these guidelines were
originally developedto meet the needs of the space community,
they have been written with the aid of national metrology institutes
of the UK and the USA and, where appropriate, are based
on best practices of the wider non-EO community. They should
therefore be readily adoptable by all GEO communities as a toplevel
framework that can subsequently be translated and implemented
to serve each specialist need.