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NCCOS Project

Improving Accessibility and Preservation of NCCOS’s Geospatial Data

This project began in May 2014 and was completed in September 2015

We are improving how NCCOS stores, preserves, and delivers its geospatial data by formalizing connections between NCCOS and NOAA data centers, creating a new geoportal to search for data, and upgrading how data are exposed to online searches.

Why We Care
NCCOS produces many different types of geospatial data, from coastal contaminant measurements to seabird hotspots to community well-being assessments. These data are used by coastal resource managers, researchers, the public, and many others to:

  • Make informed coastal and marine planning decisions;
  • Effectively conserve important coastal places and resources; and
  • Prepare for, respond to, and recover from coastal threats.

NCCOS’s geospatial data collection is constantly growing and becoming more complex, and these changes are making it more difficult for people to find, access, and understand data. Through this project, we are applying new tools, management standards, and data formats and leveraging existing NOAA capacities to increase awareness of the data and facilitate its use.

In February 2014, NOAA launched a similar effort to help make NOAA’s data more available, beginning with a Request for Information (RFI); this effort is on a much broader scale and will likely not take place for some time.

What We Are Doing
We are conducting a pilot project to improve the preservation of, and access to, a subset of NCCOS’s geospatial data. One of the most noticeable products from this project will be a new geoportal, which will enhance how clients and the public search for, find, and obtain NCCOS data. Another aspect people may notice is that more NCCOS data will be available on existing data portals, atlases, and registries (e.g., the Marine Cadastre or Digital Coast). This improved access to data will be possible only because of work behind the scenes, such as enhancements to how metadata is created, how data is archived, new map services, and more efficient connections among NCCOS, archivists, web designers, and data users.

During this one-year project, we will focus on a selection of NCCOS’s geospatial data. This project will test data management strategies using data sets that are located on the U.S. East Coast and are representative of the full breadth of NCCOS spatial planning products. We will acquire data from multiple centers—which span multiple geometries, sizes, data types, and clients—and use these data to prepare a new blueprint outlining effective strategies and methods to create, store, manage, and serve spatial planning data sets. Our goal is to prepare NCCOS across its centers and client portfolio for improved data access. We envision this proposal will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive NCCOS-wide data management plan in the future.

To achieve project objectives and take advantage of existing core competencies, NCCOS has partnered on this project with NOAA’s National Coastal Data Development Center and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management.

What We Are Finding

  • NCCOS data are currently managed in a discordant manner, with few guidelines as to how data are organized on our servers, which data are archived, and where data can be accessed by our clients and the public.
  • NCCOS researchers spend a significant amount of time involved in different aspects of data management, from creating and editing metadata to advertising data to prospective clients.
  • There are many vetted emerging technologies, such as ArcGIS online, map services, and metadata automation, that we will be able to take advantage of for improving the management of geospatial data.

Benefits of Our Work
This project is an investment in the preservation of and access to NCCOS’s geospatial data, with the goals of:

  • Making NCCOS data easier to find and use.
  • Increasing exposure of NCCOS’s data to online portals, registries, atlases, and online search engines (e.g., Google).
  • More effectively accessing and using NCCOS’s data in planning, conservation, and response and recovery.
  • Reducing future costs associated with data storage and recovery.
  • Increasing the time NCCOS scientists can focus on making innovative spatial planning products for clients by reducing the time the scientists spend finding, sharing, and explaining their data.
  • Ensuring NCCOS meets federal requirements for accessibility (NOAA Administrative Order NAO 212-15), preservation, and geospatial metadata standardization.

Next Steps
We intend to take the lessons learned during this project and apply them to all types of NCCOS geospatial data, including derived maps, imagery, and GIS files.

Additional Resources

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