A New ESS-DIVE Reporting Format for Unoccupied Aerial Systems Data and Metadata


Kim Ely1* (kely@bnl.gov), Dedi Yang1,2, Shawn Serbin1,2, Jeffrey Chambers3


1Department of Environmental and Climate Sciences, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY; 2Department of Ecology and Evolution, SUNY–Stony Brook, NY; 3Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA



The use of small unoccupied aerial systems (UASs) as an aerial platform to collect novel high- resolution data and address a wide range of tropical research questions is a rapidly developing field. Applications in tropical ecosystems include the collection of fine-scale information on tree species distribution, canopy structure, vegetation phenology, and disturbance dynamics to inform remote sensing and modeling studies. However, the lack of common metadata and formats that facilitate data interoperability is a major limitation to these efforts, making synthesis extremely challenging to achieve. ESS-DIVE is addressing these challenges by creating data and metadata reporting formats for domain-specific data types through its Community Funds program. The aim of this work is to develop open, standardized formats, vocabulary, and metadata requirements for the archiving of data from small UASs (≤25 kg). This includes basic recording of core flight data (e.g., telemetry) and primary flight metadata (e.g., flight paths, altitude, date, and time), UAS payload and instrumentation information (e.g., sensor types and specifications), and the data product metadata needed for interpreting and accessing derived UAS datasets (e.g., resolution and spatial reference system). The reporting format documentation includes a description of each proposed metadata element, with a variable name, unit, description, and example. To accommodate the diversity of platform types, instrumentation, and data collected, these elements are presented as a framework for users to adapt to their own needs rather than a rigid set of requirements. To better facilitate data discovery, categories of data products are proposed based on the level of data processing.

Each data level is described with examples and applicable file types. Data level classification will streamline identification of compatible products for data synthesis and improve data search effectiveness on the ESS-DIVE portal. Format documentation is open source and available at https://github.com/ess-dive-community/essdive-uas. All UAS data generators and users are encouraged to provide input and make use of these resources. Draft documentation is currently available for feedback, and the project will be completed by September 2023.