Edward Dwyer (University College Cork, Ireland), Kathrin Kopke (University College Cork, Ireland), Valerie Cummins (University College Cork, Ireland), Elizabeth O’Dea (Washington Department of Ecology, USA) and Declan Dunne (University College Cork, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-815-9.ch007
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The Marine Irish Digital Atlas (MIDA) is an Internet resource built in a web GIS environment, where people interested in coastal and marine information for Ireland can visualize and identify pertinent geospatial datasets and determine where to acquire them. The atlas, which is being constantly maintained, currently displays more than 140 data layers from over 35 coastal and marine organizations both within Ireland and abroad. It also features an “InfoPort” which is a repository of text, imagery, links to spatial data sources and additional reference material for a wide range of coastal and marine topics. The MIDA team has been active in the creation of the International Coastal Atlas Network and the Atlas was chosen as one of the nodes for the Semantic Interoperability Demonstrator.
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Data and information regarding Ireland’s coastal and marine environment are held by a broad range of organizations with both terrestrial and marine remits, including national government departments and agencies, local authorities, research and teaching institutions, industry, private consultants and non-governmental organizations. Only a limited number of these (such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Marine Institute, the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)) provide ready access to their holdings (Dwyer et al. 2003). The time-consuming process of data sourcing and acquisition from these various data owners is complicated by the lack of data catalogues within many organizations, nonexistent or poor-quality metadata and variations in data quality (Bartlett 1999; McCormack 2003; O’Dea et al. 2004).

In order to address some of these issues and to improve the visibility of and access to coastal and marine related data and information, the Coastal & Marine Resources Centre (CMRC) at University College Cork developed the Marine Irish Digital Atlas (MIDA). The overall aim of the MIDA project was to collate island-wide coastal and marine spatial data and make it freely accessible over the Internet. The Atlas was intended as a resource for a broad audience and aimed to cater for anyone interested in coastal and marine matters on the Island of Ireland, encompassing the casual user searching for general information as well as the specialist that required particular data sets. This interactive, online tool, centered on a web GIS, was created with a number of specific objectives in mind:

  • to develop a web site for presentation of geo-referenced coastal and marine datasets,

  • to provide greater accessibility to data and information in the form of a web-enabled, customized GIS,

  • to provide flexibility of use via a range of tools that allow users to select, overlay and compare geospatial layers,

  • to allow users to search for and identify sources of data, information and expertise on the marine environment, and

  • to encourage a greater appreciation of Ireland's coastal regions by incorporating educational and informational materials based on multi-media technology.

Development of the Atlas was funded by a grant from the Higher Education Authority of Ireland under the Program for Research in Third Level Institutions as part of the National Development Plan (2000-2006). Additional funding was provided by the Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland.

Since the MIDA was launched in 2006, the project has had multiple impacts and outcomes in areas as diverse as coastal governance in Ireland to technology development within the European Union (EU). In terms of international significance, the MIDA, together with the Oregon Coastal Atlas, served as a catalyst in the establishment of the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN). The partners involved in the development of the respective atlases organized and co-chaired the initial and subsequent ICAN workshops. The current operational version of the MIDA was launched at the first ICAN workshop held in Cork in July 2006 (O’ Dea et al. 2007). Subsequently MIDA was chosen as one of the atlases for the Semantic Interoperability Demonstrator, which is presented in chapter 4. Ongoing enhancement and improvement of the Demonstrator keep MIDA at the forefront of technical development within ICAN.

This chapter presents the many aspects involved in the development of the MIDA including an assessment of the Atlas’ impact to date. The following are discussed in detail:

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