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Report of International Coastal Atlas Network Workshop 3 on Federated Coastal Atlases: Building on the Interoperable Approach

TitleReport of International Coastal Atlas Network Workshop 3 on Federated Coastal Atlases: Building on the Interoperable Approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsDwyer, N, Wright, DJ
Date Published11/2008
Keywordscoastal atlas, coastal informatics, coastal web atlas, data access, decision-making tools, information management, metadata, regional governance, semantic interoperability, spatial data infrastructure, web GIS

With a foreword by Ronan Uhel of the European Environment Agency (EEA). EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: From July 7 to 11, 2008, the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) held a workshop on “Federated Atlases: Building on the Interoperable Approach” at the headquarters of the European Environment Agency (EEA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The workshop (aka “ICAN 3”) engaged 29 participants from 10 countries, representing 25 organizations and multiple areas of scientific and technical expertise. This meeting was a follow-up to the successful 2007 workshop on “Coastal Atlas Interoperability” (aka “ICAN 2”) and the 2006 meeting “Potentials and Limitations of Coastal Web Atlases” (aka “ICAN 1”). These first two workshops examined state-of-the-art developments in coastal web atlases (aka CWAs) from Europe and the U.S., shared several case studies and lessons learned, established key issues and recommendations related to the design, data requirements, technology and institutional capacity needed for these atlases, and examined best practices for achieving interoperability between them, and designed a demonstration interoperability prototype using the metadata catalogues of two atlases. To continue the momentum of ICAN 1 and 2 in identifying the opportunities that exist for increased data sharing in coastal web atlases for coastal management, governance, and conservation, it was the goal of ICAN 3 to: 1. demonstrate the atlas interoperability prototype, report on the lessons learnt and decide on future technical activities; 2. attract and inform a larger group of potential stakeholders of the activity, and promote an exchange of related developments in coastal and ocean information services; and 3. develop a long-term strategy and governance model for ICAN. In addition, the workshop took place around a two-day conference on Coastal Atlas Development, organised 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. 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 which can inform ICAN developments (e.g., ECOOP, the SeaDataNet initiative, the UNESCO IODE Ocean Data and Information Networks of Africa and the Caribbean, the government-funded commercial projects of SeaZone Solutions Limited, and the perspectives and programs of Wisconsin Sea Grant). Workshop participants strategised as to how ICAN might learn from and collaborate with these efforts and how best to engage additional members in the Network. In fact, we learned of emerging projects in the Australian/Pacific region, which may become future members of ICAN. Workshop participants also investigated ways of disseminating some of the wealth of knowledge and expertise held within the ICAN group. Activities underway in regard to training and publishing were presented, and the potential for additional activities was discussed. Finally a medium to long-term strategy for ICAN and a potential governance model for the Network were developed. These will help to give a coherent focus to the activities and underpin the structure of ICAN, thereby securing its future and enhancing its relevance among those interested in the future of coastal areas worldwide. ICAN 3 represented yet another step toward long-term goals of implementing and recommending best practices on all aspects of coastal web mapping, while developing a cadre of scientists who will play a leading role in forging international collaborations and technical solutions of value to their participating nations. The workshop and EEA Conference on Coastal Atlas Development that immediately followed showed clearly that the goals and work of ICAN have great value and potential. In the coming year there will be many avenues for members of the ICAN community to engage in outreach, marketing, and positioning within existing broad initiatives. ICAN has truly progressed from a project to a full-fledged program. Based on the success of the 2008 workshop in Copenhagen, ICAN will convene a 4th international workshop, at the Adriatico Guest House, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, UNESCO University, Trieste, Italy, November 16-20, 2009. In addition, the EEA plans to schedule their meeting of the European national reference centres (with an eye toward coastal and marine issues) at the same venue, immediately following ICAN 4. Objectives of ICAN 4 will include: • Engaging and servicing users of coastal web atlases, and on continued inventory, assessment, and evaluation of atlases. • Revisiting the main recommendations of the ICAN 1, especially evaluating atlas impact, and developing analysis and decision-support tools in atlases. • Continued progress on our ontology and semantic interoperability work, but with an eye also toward articulating the benefits of semantic interoperability at a broader scale, to non-specialists. • Emerging European coastal web atlases (particularly in the Mediterranean) that are making themselves relevant through policy, environmental and socio-economic indicator work and related themes. • Finalizing a structure and implementation plan for governance, strategic planning, and technical activities, including formal procedures for receiving new members.