High Level Architecture


The Open Data Cube (ODC) is an open source solution for accessing, managing, and analyzing large quantities of Geographic Information System (GIS) data - namely Earth observation (EO) data. It presents a common analytical framework composed of a series of data structures and tools which facilitate the organization and analysis of large gridded data collections. The Open Data Cube was developed for the analysis of temporally-rich earth observation data, however the flexibility of the platform also allows other gridded data collections to be included and analyzed. Such data may include elevation models, geophysical grids, interpolated surfaces and model outputs. A key characteristic of the Open Data Cube is that every unique observation is kept, which contrasts with many other methods used to handle large gridded data collections. Some of the major advantages of ODC are the following:

  • Flexible framework

  • User maintains control and ownership over their data

  • Paradigm shift from scene-based analysis to pixel based

  • Lower barrier to entry for remote sensing data analysis.

In this section, we briefly describe and illustrate the high-level architecture and ecosystem of the ODC framework in order to provide a better understanding to those who are new to ODC. This document only covers major components of the ODC and the relationships between them.

High-Level ODC Overview

The ODC core serves as a layer between satellite data and end user applications.

It provides a common analytical framework to allow multiple data sources to produce information for multiple uses. The ODC can handle data from any satellite data provider. The ODC eliminates the need for difficult and time-consuming pre-processing of the data from individual applications. This allows an increased capacity for development of information products by the Earth Observation (EO) community, and increased value for the public from EO information. Fig. 1 illustrates data from many satellite data providers being managed by an ODC system.


Fig. 1 High-Level Open Data Cube Overview

Several international space agencies provide data and make provisions to supply this data in an Analysis Ready Data (ARD) format for immediate application.

Fig. 1 illustrates a diverse set of data being managed by an ODC core system. The ODC core system is then used as a simplified basis on which end users conduct analysis using ODC compatible analysis tools.

High-Level ODC Ecosystem

As stated earlier, the ODC core serves as a layer between satellite data providers and applications. A set of open source tools exist to help scientists conduct research using data managed by the ODC.

Fig. 2 illustrates popular tools used within the community that utilizes the ODC Core as its basis:

  • Command Line Tools: A tool used by programmers/developers to interface with the ODC.

  • Open Data Cube Explorer: A visual and interactive web application that lets users explore their inventory of available data.

  • Open Data Cube Stats: An optimized means of defining and executing advanced analysis on ODC system. This tool is oriented towards scientists.

  • Web User Interface (UI): A web application that allows developers to interactively showcase and visualize the output of algorithms.

  • Jupyter Notebooks: Research documents centered around techniques in EO sciences. A notebook contains executable code detailing examples of how the data cube is used in a research setting, and therefore is an invaluable reference material for new users.

  • Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Services: Adapters that can connect non-ODC applications to the ODC.


Fig. 2 High-Level ODC Ecosystem

Download Data Locally and Index

In the previous section, Fig. 2 showed that the ODC framework can make data accessible to a sizeable ecosystem of applications. The following section briefly covers a process called indexing. Described plainly, indexing is about making the ODC aware of the existence of imagery. In the process of indexing data, the ODC tracks information that is useful when it comes to loading imagery, searching for imagery, or performing more advanced operations such as realigning imagery. The data can be either downloaded locally or stored in the cloud. In this section, we describe the process of indexing where data is downloaded locally.

Here is a brief outline of the indexing process:

1. As shown in Fig. 3, the first step in this process is to describe the source of the imagery. We include basic details about which sensor the data comes from, what format to expect the data in, as well as its measurements, e.g. bands. This is done by drafting a document called a product definition for each data type. This product definition is then added to the system. Adding a product definition enables the system to accept that product.

2. The second step in the process is about extracting details from an individual satellite image. This is called the data preparation step. Scripts are available to extract information or metadata from many types of images.

3. The data extracted in step 2 typically includes date and time of acquisition, spatial bounds, etc. as metadata. In the third step, called indexing, metadata (documents) are indexed into the ODC’s database. Most importantly, the process stores the location of the data within a local system.


Fig. 3 Download Data Locally and Index

Download Data Locally and Ingest

In the previous section, we briefly touched on the process of indexing. In this section, we will discuss the process called ingestion. Ingestion is a process that takes indexed data and performs some operations to turn it into a new file format or structure. This optimization step can increase the efficiency of data storage and retrieval. For example, there are significant improvements when converting downloaded GeoTIFFs to a format like NetCDF. Ingestion also splits large scene files into several smaller tiles to help organize large multidimensional data-sets for both fast and flexible data access. Geospatial transformations can also be defined in the ingestion process. The ingestion process can be configured using an ingestion configuration to reformat and apply geospatial transforms to the data. Fig. 4 illustrates the ingestion process. The indexed imagery is transformed and reformatted per ingestion configuration specifications. It may involve re-sampling, re-projection, repackaging, re-compression, etc. The newly formatted/transformed data is re-indexed in the database under a new product name that gets registered in the database.


Fig. 4 Download Data Locally and Ingest

Load Data

User-supplied query parameters are used as a lookup into the metadata database in order to determine which datasets hold data requested by the user. Those datasets are then grouped and ordered, and the actual data is loaded from the file system. The resulting data is organized into an Xarray Dataset with appropriate temporal-spatial dimensions and separate data variables for each band.


Fig. 5 Load Data