Coastal Informatics: Web Atlas Design and Implementation

Coastal Informatics: Web Atlas Design and Implementation

Dawn Wright (Oregon State University, USA), Ned Dwyer (University College Cork, Ireland) and Valerie Cummins (University College Cork, Ireland)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: July, 2010|Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 344
ISBN13: 9781615208159|ISBN10: 1615208151|EISBN13: 9781615208166|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-815-9


The field of web-based coastal atlas informatics presents experts with a variety of unique considerations in an area where accuracy is of vital importance and proper representation of spatial data come to the forefront.

Coastal Informatics: Web Atlas Design and Implementation reviews and presents the latest developments in the emerging field of coastal web atlases through a series of case studies giving practical guidance on geographic data management and documentation through standards-based metadata, as well as making underlying geographic databases interoperable. Readers will find this book of practical use in Web atlas design, development and implementation, improving spatial thinking in the coastal context.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Australia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Caribbean
  • Coastal Atlas Interoperability
  • Coastal Web Atlas Case Studies Around the World
  • Coastal Web Atlas Features
  • Coastal Web Atlas Implementation
  • Controlled Vocabularies and Ontologies
  • European Union Atlases
  • Geographic Metadata Standards
  • Open Geospatial Services
  • Oregon, USA, Atlases
  • The Atlas System - A Developer's Perspective

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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This book is based on the results of two international workshops jointly funded by the US National Science Foundation and the National Development Program of Ireland. They brought together key experts from Europe, the United States, Canada Africa, and Australia to examine state-of-the-art developments in coastal informatics (e.g., data portals, data/ metadata vocabularies and ontologies, metadata creation/ extraction/ cross-walking tools, geographic and information management systems, grid computing) and coastal mapping (particularly via Internet map servers and web-based geographical information and analysis). The first workshop, held in Cork, Ireland in July 2006, enabled participants to examine state-of-the-art developments in coastal web atlases (CWAs), and to assess the potential and the limitations of selected CWAs from the United States and Europe. Participants also shared several case studies and lessons learned, and established key issues and recommendations related to the design, data requirements, technology and institutional capacity needed for these atlases. This necessitated an examination of best practices for achieving interoperability between CWAs, which led international participants to a second workshop entitled “Coastal Atlas Interoperability,” and held on the campus of Oregon State University in July 2007. At this second workshop, expert participants learned how to use controlled vocabularies and ontologies in order to build a common approach to managing and disseminating coastal data, maps and information, and concluded with the aim of designing and developing a demonstration interoperability prototype using the metadata catalogs of two mature atlases (the Oregon Coastal Atlas and the Marine Irish Digital Atlas).

The technical experts, scientists, decision makers and practitioners of the workshops in Ireland and Oregon decided to informally organize under the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) and sought to continue the momentum with a third workshop. Based on the success of the group to this point, the European Environment Agency (EEA) sponsored and hosted this third event in 2008, at its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, under the theme: “Federated Atlases: Building on the Interoperable Approach.” Workshop participants discussed the progress-to-date on the ICAN interoperability prototype and agreed upon future technical activities. The relevant policy context within which ICAN must operate was presented, along with an overview of a number of related coastal and marine information management projects that could inform ICAN developments. In addition, the workshop took place around a two-day conference on Coastal Atlas Development, organized by the EEA itself, whose objective was to inform EEA partners about the development of coastal atlases and the emergence of ICAN in light of relevant European policy developments in the maritime sphere.

By this time, CWAs in general and ICAN in particular had captured the interest of scores of local, state and national governments, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and universities, as well NOAA, certainly the EEA, and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Workshop participants therefore discussed ways of disseminating some of the wealth of knowledge and expertise that had been growing within the ICAN group (which now stands at over 35 organizations from over 10 countries). It was decided that one effective way to do this would be through the publication of a book to review and present the latest developments in the new emerging field of coastal web atlases, to share best practices and lessons learned through a series of case studies, to give practical guidance on geographic data management and documentation through standards-based metadata, as well as guidance on how to make underlying geographic databases interoperable. This current publication is the result. We hope that readers will find this book of practical use in web atlas design, development and implementation, and will thus improve their spatial thinking in the coastal context. Hence, rather than a lengthy theoretical treatise on basic and futuristic research questions and problems, the book has been prepared more as a concise, ready reference, with collections of subject-specific instructions where appropriate.

The prime audience for the book is coastal resource managers and consultants, coastal scientists, coastal technologists (e.g., information technologists, GIS specialists, software developers), government researchers, and graduate students. The book should be especially valuable to coastal resource managers who need to tackle such topic-based issues (explaining environmental concepts to the public and reaching them with current information has always been a difficult task).

The book may also be suitable for intermediate, advanced courses in coastal/marine GIS or coastal zone management (i.e., courses toward a related BS/BSc, MS/MSc or PhD degree, in the classroom, but also potentially for distance education as well). The material in the book and the dedicated website should allow students to familiarize themselves with what CWA (web GIS) technology is, what are the basics of related disciplines, and how to use physical environmental and biological data available in the atlases in order to develop specific GIS applications and models. Course instructors may use the contents of the dedicated website either to present ready-to-use applications or to use the variety of included data for building new GIS applications.

Further expected contributions of the book include:
• Wide data dissemination to enhance scientific and technological understanding. The book should be great interest not only to the coastal/marine research and management community, but also to libraries, high schools, and outreach sites. Linkages in the book are made to parallel research in geographic information science, digital library development, and computer science. The presentation of lessons learned should help guide the development of new national and regional atlases, and improve decision-support systems.
• Advancing discovery and understanding; promoting teaching, training and learning through integration of research and education. The book may be useful as additional content to faculty course materials and to graduate research. We anticipate a number of student research topics and projects at both the M.S./M.Sc. and Ph.D. levels that may be aided by this book.
 Benefiting society. With the release of the Pew and U.S. Ocean Commission reports as well as the European Union Integrated Maritime Policy there is growing public awareness of the critical state of our coastal zones and fisheries. The book poses informatics solutions that seek to improve management practices and decision-making. Mapping plays a critical role in issues of national sovereignty, resource management, maritime safety, and hazard assessment.

This book is also accompanied by a dedicated website (International Coastal Atlas Network, which includes links to mature CWAs, and is building templates for CWA design, snippets of scripts and programming routines to achieve interoperability with partner atlases, and several other resources mainly for online GIS developments and online data providers. We hope that you find it useful!

Dawn Wright
Oregon State University, USA

Edward Dwyer, Valerie Cummins
Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork, Ireland

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Dawn Wright is a professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University, and the director of the Davey Jones’ Locker Seafloor Mapping/Marine GIS Laboratory. Her research interests include geographic information science, coastal web atlases, benthic terrain and habitat characterization, tectonics of mid-ocean ridges, and the processing and interpretation of high-resolution bathymetry and underwater videography/photography. She serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Transactions in GIS, Journal of Coastal Conservation, The Professional Geographer, and Geography Compass, as well as on the US National Academy of Sciences' Ocean Studies Board, Committee on Strategic Directions in the Geographical Sciences for the Next Decade, Committee on an Ocean Infrastructure Strategy for US Ocean Research in 2030, and the Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data. She serves on the Technical Advisory Board of the Marine Metadata Interoperability project. Dawn’s other books include Arc Marine: GIS for a Blue Planet (with M. Blongewicz, P. Halpin, and J. Breman, ESRI Press, 2007), Place Matters: Geospatial Tools for Marine Science, Conservation, and Management in the Pacific Northwest (with A. Scholz, Oregon State University Press, 2005), Undersea with GIS (ESRI Press, 2002), and Marine and Coastal Geographical Information Systems (with D. Bartlett, Taylor & Francis, 2000). Dawn holds a Ph.D. in Physical Geography and Marine Geology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Edward (Ned) Dwyer has a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in remote sensing and image processing technology. He has worked in the area of terrestrial and marine remote sensing applications for many years using data from both optical and synthetic aperture radar sensors. Since joining the CMRC in 2002 he has been the project manager of the Marine Irish Digital Atlas, with particular responsibility for metadata specification and data acquisition. He is also researching climate observation systems in Ireland in regard to the Global Climate Observing System requirements. He is currently the co-chair of the International Coastal Atlas Network and an occasional lecturer on remote sensing and GIS topics at University College Cork.
Valerie Cummins is the former director of the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork, and recently appointed as the Director of Ireland's Maritime & Energy Research Campus and Commercial Cluster (MERC3). Her research interests cover a range of coastal governance issues including public participation, intuitional aspects of geomatics, capacity building for coastal management, and the science and policy interface and ecosystems frameworks. She is currently reading for a PhD on organizational tools for sustainability science in coastal zone management. She was instrumental in securing funding for the development of the Marine Irish Digital Atlas and has overseen the project since its inception. This activity led to her being a co-founder of the International Coastal Atlas Network. She contributes to the editorial panel of the international Marine Policy journal published by Elsevier and is a member of the Marine Geography Commission of the International Geographic Union.