Creating integrated information services in agriculture giving access and adding value to information residing in distributed sources remains a major challenge.
In distributed architectures, value added services by definition interface several information sources / services. Therefore value added services cannot be built without an awareness of what others have done: which sources are available, how to tap into them, how to exploit their semantics.
The Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) Routemap to Information Nodes and Gateways (RING) is a portal offering an interlinked registry of existing information services in agriculture.
The CIARD RING covers both information services and sources: in nowadays information architectures, the distinction between the two is very fluid. In the RING, the definition of "service" includes any form of providing information from one server instance (website, mail server, web services, XML archive...) to many clients (browsers, email clients, news readers, harvesters...)
The services registered in the RING are described in details and categorized according to criteria that are relevant to the use of the service and its interoperability. The RING categorizes and interlinks the featured services according to criteria such as: standards adopted, vocabulary used, technology used, protocols implemented, level of interoperability etc. In addition, it features detailed instructions on how the registered services can be "interoperated".
The vision is that the RING will become the common global technical platform for the community of agricultural information professionals for accessing, sharing and exchanging information through web services.
This paper describes how the RING provides an infrastructure for enhancing interoperability of information sources and thus paves the way towards better accessibility of information through value-added and better targeted services.