Thinking in Workflows

A result of the Digital Earth project is the adaption of the concept: thinking in workflows

The concept of workflow was formally defined by the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) as "the computerized facilitation or automation of a business process, in whole or part" (Hollingsworth 1994). With the dramatic increase of data volumes and diversity in every domain, workflows play an ever more significant role, enabling researchers to formulate processing and analysis methods to extract latent information from multiple data sources and to exploit a very broad range of data and computational platforms. (Atkinson et al 2017, p. 2016). The description of workflows on different abstraction levels provides a number of benefits. It enables scientists to document and communicate scientific approaches and knowledge creation processes in a structured way. It provides the interface between scientific approaches and computing infrastructures . And it allows for sharing, reuse, and discovery of workflows or parts of it (Cerezo et al 2013).

  • Atkinson, M., Geins, S., Montagnat, J., Taylor, I., (2017): Scientific workflows: past, present, future. Future Generation Computer Systems 75 (2017) 216-227
  • Cerezo, N., · Montagnat, J., Blay-Fornarino, M., (2013): Computer-Assisted Scientific Workflow Design. J Grid Computing (2013) 11:585–612, DOI 10.1007/s10723-013-9264-5
  • Hollingsworth, David (1994), Workflow Management Coalition: The Workflow Reference Model, DOI

Application of the workflow concept in Digital Earth

The concept of thinking in workflows found implementation in the Flood Application Case and various other Digital Earth Application Cases. Within the Flood Application Case we exemplarily demonstrate how scientific workflows can be used conceptually to face overarching scientific problems/questions by breaking them down into smaller units. And we show how scientific workflows can technically support comprehensive integration, exploration and analysis of existing data.

Within the Flood Application Case we developed five scientific workflows that allow for investigating flood events along the process chain event generation, evolution and impact. The workflows enable the integration of methods and data from multiple sources and computational platforms. Check out the workflows within the interactive figure below. All workflows are implemented within the Digital Earth Data Analytics Software Framework DASF and are provided within the Digital Earth Flood Event Explorer.

workflow matrix

Matrix showing the workflows of the Flood Application Case along the process cascade (generation, evolution and impact) of a flood event and the involved domains (ATMO, TERRA, MARE).