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The OGS received accreditation as an IODE National Oceanographic Data Centre

18 April 2024

The National Oceanographic Data Centre managed by OGS (OGS-NODC) has received formal recognition by the UNESCO IODE Committee as an Accredited IODE National Oceanographic Data Centre. The NODCs accredited by IODE are also accredited as part of the World Data System, an affiliated body of the International Science Council, advocating for accessible data and transparent and reproducible science. The OGS-NODC is the first and only marine data centre in Italy to receive this seal of quality.

IODE stands for International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange Programme. The IODE is the system of national data facilities established in 1961 by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission to: "Enhance marine research, exploration, and development by facilitating the exchange of oceanographic data and information between participating Member States, and by meeting the needs of users for data and information products." Currently the IODE network consists of 101 data centres from 68 member states also from Africa, Latin America, and the West Pacific region. This network has been able to collect, control the quality of, and archive millions of marine datasets and make these available to the community.

To obtain the accreditation the OGS-NODC had to meet a set of requirements to ensure compliance with IODE standards and to establish a Quality Management Systems (QMS). This is a mechanism that enables an organisation to identify risks and opportunities and contains guidance for improvement. The IODE Committee established the IODE Quality Management Framework (IODE-QMF), which provides overall strategy, advice and guidance for NODCs to design and implement QMS. In accordance with the IODE-QMF, the quality management system implemented by OGS-NODC complies with ISO 9001, the international standard for quality management. In particular, the OGS-NODC is compliant with ISO 9001:2015, the most widely recognized and implemented standard for quality management systems.

“Only 11 out of 60 NODCs in the IODE network are accredited as IODE National Oceanographic Data Centres,” said Alessandra Giorgetti, Head of OGS-NODC, on the occasion of the second meeting of the Italian Community of data stewards, which took place yesterday in Bologna (Italy), where OGS spoke for the first time about UNESCO certification. Giorgetti added: “This does not surprise me, because setting up and maintaining a Quality Management System is a long and demanding activity that requires skills and competences beyond what is commonly associated with a data centre. We need to think and act more like a company whose main focus is on meeting customer requirements and exceeding customer expectations.”

It takes almost two years before accreditation is granted, a bumpy road with four important steps.

  • In April 2022, the OGS-NODC started working on its QMS to establish a set of procedures that the Centre intends to follow to achieve the defined quality objectives within its mission. This was done in close cooperation with Eng. Laterza, an external expert for ISO standards from NEOS Group Srl.
  • In November 2022, OGS-NODC appointed Chiara Altobelli as the internal person responsible for managing the quality system.
  • On December 23, 2023, the OGS-NODC submitted the application for accreditation to the Steering Group for the IODE Quality Management Framework (SG-QMF).
  • On March 15 of this year, OGS-NODC obtained the accreditation from the IODE Committee.

That's just the beginning of the story! The OGS-NODC will not rest on its laurels. The capabilities and performance of the Data Centre will be reviewed every four years by IODE.