The International Coastal Atlas Network

The International Coastal Atlas Network

Dawn J. Wright (Oregon State University, USA), Valerie Cummins (University College Cork, Ireland) and Edward Dwyer (University College Cork, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-815-9.ch015
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This chapter introduces coastal web atlas (CWA) management and governance issues by way of a summary of the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN). ICAN is a newly-founded, informal group of over 30 organizations from over a dozen nations who have been meeting over the past two years to scope and implement data interoperability approaches to CWAs. The strategic aim (or mission) of ICAN is to leverage the expertise of its members to find common solutions to CWA design and implementation (e.g., user and developer guides, handbooks and articles on best practices, information on standards and web services, expertise and technical support directories, education, outreach, and funding opportunities, etc.). It also seeks to encourage and facilitate global operational interoperability between CWAs in order to enhance data and information sharing among users, and assist in the translation of coastal science to coastal decision-making.
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It is important to note further that while individual atlas efforts are important, as evidenced by the chapters in Section 2 of the book, collaboration between atlases on a regional and international scale can be critical as well. As a springboard to understanding the many dimensions of such collaboration, including both the inherent potentials and limitations, a trans-Atlantic workshop was held in Cork, Ireland, in July 2006. This gathering enabled participants from Europe and North America to assess the potential and the limitations of selected CWAs from the United States and Europe (O’Dea et al., 2007). The catalyst for the workshop came initially from bilateral discussions between atlas developers in Oregon State University (OSU) and in University College Cork. A community of interested parties grew as the two university groups facilitated the introduction of larger networks from both continents. One of the central outcomes of the workshop was recognition of the value of networking among the CWA workshop participants, and a desire for further opportunities to share valuable data and information. Thus, the seed was sown for the development of the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN), the subject of this chapter.

The strategic aim of ICAN, as initially established in an initial workshop (described in the next section), is to share knowledge and experience among atlas developers in order to find common solutions for coastal web atlas development whilst ensuring maximum relevance and added value for the users. These atlases can be local, regional, national and international in scale. This is a mutually beneficial international activity with complementary strengths in evidence from North America, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Australia. ICAN participants can play a leadership role in forging further international collaborations of value to participating nations. This has tremendous potential for global spatial data infrastructures and Internet mapping projects. Benefits of participation in ICAN include: (1) receiving guidance and best practices for your own local CWA development from a community of experts in the information technology, GIS, data management and coastal/marine governance domains; (2) making your CWA interoperable with a larger universe of resources and communication channels that are needed for effective marine spatial planning, resource management, and emergency planning; and (3) participation in teaching and learning activities organized by ICAN or other organizations in the CWA domain; and (4) collaborative research proposal development (Wright et al., 2009a & 2009b).

Given our long-term strategic goal of encouraging and facilitating the development of digital atlases of the global coast based on the principle of distributed, high-quality data and information, ICAN continues to convene workshops to:

  • Ensure that ICAN has representation from coastal web atlas development and user groups from across the world.

  • Develop technical and policy guidelines to assist coastal web atlas developers in acquiring data and engaging with data providers. Accordingly, collate and publish a set of best-practice guidelines for the development of coastal web atlases.

  • Highlight the benefits of interoperability and standards-based systems to the coastal atlas developer communities.

  • Develop collaborative projects for the sharing of know-how, implementation of technical solutions and demonstration of atlas benefits to users.

  • Align the atlas efforts of the Network partners in order that interoperability can be facilitated.

  • Engage with other relevant international projects and developments.

  • Involve representatives of the relevant user communities to help in tailoring coastal web atlases to their needs.

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