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SANDRE Technical Secretariat


In France, in the 1990s, each producer or user of water data gathered heterogeneous information. Each one defined his own language terms, established his own coding, structured his computer files according to his own standards... Problems necessarily arose when collecting, storing, verifying, representing and exchanging these data. The most basic questions were: "Who is responsible for this datum?","What data should be provided and how?", etc.

In the early 1990s, with its recognized experience in data management in France and abroad, the International Office for Water (IOWater) was asked by the Ministry in charge of the Environment to imagine solutions. IOWater then worked with the most important organizations involved at the time, including the Water Agencies. This work led to the establishment of a water information system called the National Water Data Network (RNDE) and the progressive construction of a common repository of water language entitled SANDRE Repository, meaning "National Service for Water Data and Common Reference Frames Management”. The purpose of this reference framework is to homogenize and facilitate the exchange of water data from the RNDE. As a result of the 1992 Water Law, a memorandum of understanding, signed by the various stakeholders, including IOWater, designated as scientific and technical operator, took action and launched the dynamics for the RNDE implementation.

In 2000, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) laid down environmental objectives for Member States, asking them to base their policies on environmental knowledge (including pressures on the environments), and to report their effectiveness through monitoring programs, feeding the Water Information System for Europe, WISE. Succeeding to the RNDE, the French Water Information System (WIS) was set up by the Ministry for the Environment to meet these requirements by supporting the design, implementation and evaluation of water-oriented knowledge. From then, the acronym "SANDRE" has meant "National Service for Water Data and Common Reference Frames Management".

In 2010, the National Water Data Scheme (SNDE) set out the objectives, scope and governance of the WIS and described its technical mechanisms (see Order of 26 July 2010 approving the SNDE). The National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA) is responsible for the technical coordination of the WIS, under the authority of the Ministry for the Environment. It relies on the SANDRE, a reference system essential to the proper functioning of the WIS.


What is IOWater doing?

As soon as the SANDRE was created, the International Office for Water (IOWater), in accordance with Article 1 of the Decree of 30 August 2001 on its statutes, took charge of the SANDRE Technical Secretariat to guarantee its operational functioning and to physically represent the SANDRE. The missions of the SANDRE Technical Secretariat (SANDRE TS) concern the following 5 development areas:

  1. Organize and establish methodologies: SANDRE TS participates in the meetings organized by the organizations in connection with data on water and its environment. These are meetings of the permanent groups of the Water Information System (WIS) - GCiB, GPS, GPA, GIGE (see the Order of July 26, 2010 approving the SNDE), etc. and (interim) ad hoc groups such as those dealing with water intakes areas. They are also meetings organized by consulting firms, computer companies, etc., wishing to use and / or participate in the construction of the SANDRE repository. These meetings are essential to agree on the SANDRE framework to be used and how to carry it out and disseminate it. For this purpose, SANDRE TS develops and / or presents methodological notes to these working groups for advice. The latter can feed, whenever necessary, the ISO 9001 certified quality system of the SANDRE
  2. Specify data and metadata: SANDRE TS organizes and facilitates SANDRE ad-hoc meetings, including that of the SANDRE (ADD) data administrators group. The latter is intended to validate all SANDRE specifications. The SANDRE TS specifies - with the support of other business organizations - data and metadata on water and its environment in accordance with the methodological documents (see development area 1). These are precisely collections of specification documents: data presentation, data dictionaries, exchange scenarios, web service scenario (see glossary of the SANDRE website)...
  3. Build and manage the data repository: SANDRE TS disseminates many reference datasets (i.e., SANDRE code list), some of which are being cleaned due to changes in regulations, their uses, etc. Some of these data are directly produced by the SANDRE TS according to methodological documents (see development area 1); These are mainly SANDRE code lists of stakeholders involved, taxon and group names, parameters and groups (regulatory, physical, chemical, etc.), units of measurement, collection system (i.e. measurement networks), analyzed fractions and supports, indicators of water status. Others are collected from some organizations by SANDRE TS such as rivers from continental France and overseas departments / regions, water bodies, regulatory zoning.... In this case, SANDRE TS applies quality controls to inform the organizations of any corrections they must make to their data.
  4. Disseminate recommendations and support to users: SANDRE TS provides daily technical assistance by e-mail and phone to users of SANDRE repository. It also promotes SANDRE in France and abroad. It issues SANDRE certificates of conformity to requesting organizations.
  5. Provide services and disseminate the repository: SANDRE TS has a computerized structure enabling it to optimize its productivity and offer the best services to users of SANDRE repository. It coordinates the development of online services for the production and distribution of SANDRE repository. It disseminates SANDRE reference frames through the website and its online services. It maintains this website and its services in operational conditions, including the search engine, the atlas, the catalogue of metadata, the master data management...

SANDRE repository is therefore produced by a network of public and private organizations, including the International Office for Water (IOWater), which takes care of its Technical Secretariat. The activities of SANDRE TS meet a certified ISO 9001 SANDRE quality process. A set of quality indicators, produced by SANDRE TS, allows measuring its performance and regulating its activity under the control of the SANDRE Steering Group (GPS in French).



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