International

ICAN is a project of UNESCO IOC´s IODE Programme, and ICAN members seek to play a leadership role in forging international collaborations of value to the participating nations, thereby optimizing regional governance in coastal zone management and marine spatial planning.

Coastal

We live on a blue planet, with oceans and seas covering more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. Some 37 per cent of the world's population lives within 100 km of the coast. (UNEP)

Atlas

CWAs are "...collections of digital maps and datasets with supplementary tables, illustrations, & information that systematically illustrate the coast, oftentimes with cartographic & decision support tools, all of which are accessible via the Internet."  O'Dea et al., 2007

Network

Membership in ICAN is open to all interested parties who agree to the mission & objectives of ICAN, including those with an operational coastal web atlas, as well as those hoping to design and build a coastal web atlas in the future.
Join us!

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Activities of the ICAN Technical Team

Roy Lowry (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) and Adam Leadbetter (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.), BODC, Liverpool, UK,
Declan Dunne(Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) and Yassine Lassoued (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) , Coastal and Marine Research Centre (CMRC), Cork, Ireland,
Tanya Haddad (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.), Oregon Coastal Atlas Project, USA,
Liz O’Dea (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) State of Washington Department of Ecology, USA

ICAN Cookbooks

The last issue of the ICAN newsletter (Volume One, Number 1, March 2012) outlined the need for technical training material for costal web atlas developers in the form of cookbooks, and how the NETMAR project has produced cookbooks to contribute to this training material. In June 2012, the NETMAR team has revised and updated these cookbooks based on feedback. The cookbooks explain key information behind NETMAR’s ICAN demonstration pilot. Central to these cookbooks is material to help atlas developers connect to the International Coastal Web Atlas (ICWA) prototype. It is a prototype atlas mediator that provides a common interface for accessing distributed local atlases, such as MIDA (Marine Irish Digital Atlas), OCA (Oregon Coastal Atlas), Washington Coastal Atlas (WCA), etc. It uses a knowledge organization system to improve data discovery by exploiting the semantics of keywords and allowing users to search data by “meaning” rather than by “mere keywords”.

Four cookbooks are included which covers key material concerning the technologies and standards utilised by the ICWA prototype:

  • Understanding Semantics;
  • Understanding Metadata;
  • Establishing a CSW metadata catalogue with GeoNetwork; and
  • Connecting your Atlas to the ICWA prototype.

The “Understanding Semantics” cookbook provides a tutorial for those who wish to investigate and make use of semantic web and knowledge organization system technologies. These technologies fall broadly into three groups: vocabularies, thesauri and ontologies. This cookbook includes material explaining how to deploy semantics that are required by the ICWA prototype, utilising the NERC Vocabulary Server (NVS) infrastructure.

The “Understanding Metadata” cookbook provides a tutorial for those who wish to understand metadata. Included is a description of metadata and why we need it, metadata standards in use today, description of different metadata hierarchy levels, and a list of some metadata editing tools available. The section also references example metadata records aimed at system developers who are familiar with ISO 19115/19119 metadata implemented in ISO 19139 XML. These metadata examples include semantic keywords which are registered in the NVS.

The “Establishing a CSW metadata catalogue with GeoNetwork opensource” cookbook provides a tutorial for those who wish to understand CSW (Catalog Services for the Web) metadata catalogues. Included is a description of a metadata catalogue, the CSW standard, and a list of selected CSW servers. The document also contains initial pointers to establishing a CSW server using GeoNetwork open source and examples of selected CSW query operations aimed at system developers. GeoNetwork is recommended and used by the NETMAR project.

The “Connecting your Atlas to the ICWA prototype” cookbook provides a step-by-step guide explaining how to connect a local atlas as a node in the ICWA prototype utilising technologies and standards described in the other cookbooks. This cookbook specifies the ICWA connection requirements including metadata (ISO 19115/19119/19139), CSW metadata catalogues (CSW 2.0.2, ISO Metadata Application Profile version 1.0.0), and supported ISO 19139 encoding forms for semantic keywords.

The four cookbooks are available in a single PDF file that is currently located at: http://netmar.nersc.no/sites/netmar.nersc.no/files/D7.9.2_ICAN_semantic_cookbooks_r2_20120731_0.pdf

Please get in touch with Coastal and Marine Research Centre (CMRC) if you wish to give feedback.

International Coastal Web Atlas prototype

The Geomatics team of the CMRC, University College Cork (UCC), in partnership with the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC), are currently developing the third version of the International Coastal Web Atlas (ICWA) prototype as part of the EU FP7 NETMAR project. ICWA 3 will replace the current ICAN prototype and aims to become an operational web application that allows seamless and semantically enabled access to the ICAN atlases.

ICWA 3, which will be released by the end of October 2012, will include the following features and improvements since version 2:

  • a standardised semantic resource structure based on SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System);
  • an advanced thesaurus browser that displays term hierarchies, related terms, definitions, synonyms, etc. (Figure 1);
  • smart search;
  • the ability to connect an atlas without requirements for ontology development;
  • improved storage and management of ontologies with faster access;
  • a standardised semantic web service (SWS) will allow external applications to interact with the ICAN thesauri;
  • support for Catalog Service for the Web (CSW) 2.0.1 and CSW 2.0.2 nodes,
  • support for CSW 2.0.2 queries; and
  • improved search performance.

Activities of the ICAN Technical Team, March 2012

Roy Lowry (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) and Adam Leadbetter (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.), BODC, Liverpool, UK,
Declan Dunne(Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) and Yassine Lassoued (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) , CMRC, Cork, Ireland,
Tanya Haddad (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.), Oregon Coastal Atlas Project, USA,
Liz O’Dea (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.) State of Washington Department of Ecology, USA

The development of ICAN semantics began with the assembly of a Coastal Erosion ontology to support semantically-enabled atlas layer discovery following the workshop at Corvallis in 2007. Semantically-enabled, or ‘smart’, discovery is where terms supplied by the search client are used to locate metadata that has been marked up using different but semantically related terms.  A much quoted example is a search that returns datasets tagged ‘rainfall’ for a search term of ‘precipitation’.

This work was based on strategies and technologies provided by the Marine Metadata Interoperability (MMI) initiative.  The strategy adopted was to take local vocabularies and ontologies, convert them into Web Ontology Language(OWL) classes using tools like Protégé or TopBraid Composer and then map them to a global ontology, again comprising OWL classes, using the MMI VINE tool. 

Some initial work, the conversion of local vocabularies from the Irish MIDA and Oregon coastal atlases into OWL, was completed but very little mapping work was done subsequently.  The possibility was mooted that the OWL-based approach, particularly some of the tools, created a technological barrier that people were unwilling to surmount. Consequently, in the NETMAR project (see below) an approach was taken where tools such as Microsoft Excel were used to assemble the local vocabularies and the mappings as a series of spreadsheets.  These were then imported into an Oracle database and exported by a Java software layer (the NERC Vocabulary Server or NVS) as a thesaurus conforming to the W3C Simple Knowledge Organisation System (SKOS) standard.

Figure 1. ICAN Coastal Erosion Mapping

Figure 1. ICAN Coastal Erosion Mapping

As a part of this work, the mapping between the Oregon Coastal Atlas and the ICAN Coastal Erosion Global Atlas was completed as shown in Figure 1. The resulting thesaurus is available as a SKOS document from the NVS at the URL http://vocab.nerc.ac.uk/scheme/ICANCOERO. The response returned by the vocabulary server is a SKOS document encoded in RDF-XML. However, a stylesheet has been included to facilitate human browsing of the resource.  Hardcore XML addicts can get their fix through ‘View Source’.  Further work to incorporate the MIDA vocabulary and some terms from the Wisconsin Coastal Atlas are planned for late spring and early summer of 2012.  If anybody has other coastal erosion semantic resources they would like to be mapped in please contact either of the authors at BODC.

Following requests from the ICAN community at the ICAN 5 workshop, a draft ICAN Water Quality Global Thesaurus has been developed as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. ICAN Water Quality Global Thesaurus

Figure 2. ICAN Water Quality Global Thesaurus

We would like to develop this into a full semantic discovery resource. However, we need local water quality vocabularies or ontologies for us to map.  If anybody has these available, please get in touch with BODC.  We would also like to hear from anybody interested in working with us to develop semantic resources for Marine Spatial Planning or Climate Risks.

ICAN Cookbooks

Following the ICAN workshop in Copenhagen in 2008, it was decided to provide technical training for costal web atlas developers in the form of cookbooks, especially for people who are starting a new atlas. While the “Coastal Informatics: Web Atlas Design and Implementation” handbook published by IGI-Global in 2011 covers the more theoretical aspects of costal web atlas development, the cookbooks are targeted to contain more practical step-by-step instructions. Consequently, the NETMAR project has produced cookbooks to contribute to this technical training material.

These are:

Understanding Semantics

This cookbook provides a tutorial for those who wish to further investigate and make use of semantic web technologies. For data to be fully understood in a distributed system, they must be labelled (or “marked up”) accordingly. Either the label used throughout the system must use a common set of phrases, or there must be a means of translating between the phrases used at different points of the system. The aim of the cookbook is to provide consistent phrases and to define the relationships in a formal manner, resulting in what is often called a “knowledge organization system”.
In 1999 Tim Berners-Lee wrote “If HTML and the [World Wide] Web made all the online documents look like one huge book, [semantics] will make all the data in the world look like one huge database." The ICAN Understanding Semantics cookbook now provides a tutorial for those who wish to investigate and make use of these technologies, aimed specifically at members of the ICAN community.

Understanding Metadata

This cookbook provides a tutorial for those who wish to better understand metadata. Geospatial metadata is “data about data”. It contains information that documents the basic characteristics of a geospatial data resource. It can also document basic characteristics of geospatial applications or services. Metadata falls into broad categories where it answers the “what, why, when, who, where and how” questions about the resource.

Establishing a CSW metadata catalogue with GeoNetwork opensource

This cookbook provides a tutorial for those who wish to better understand CSW (Catalog Services for the Web) metadata catalogues. It also contains initial pointers to establishing a CSW server using GeoNetwork opensource. A metadata catalogue stores and publishes collections or sets of metadata records describing data, services, and related information resources. Standards are required to enable interoperable searching of distributed metadata catalogues between organisations. This is achieved using the CSW standard

Connecting your Atlas

This cookbook provides a step-by-step guide explaining how to connect a local atlas as a node in the ICAN Prototype and NETMAR Demonstrator. It is a prototype atlas mediator which provides a common interface for accessing distributed local atlases, such as MIDA (Marine Irish Digital Atlas), OCA (Oregon Coastal Atlas), and Washington Coastal Atlas (WCA). It uses a knowledge organization system (KOS) to improve data discovery by exploiting the semantics of keywords and allowing users to search data by “meaning” rather than by “mere keywords.”

The four cookbooks are available in a single PDF file that is currently located at http://netmar.nersc.no/sites/netmar.nersc.no/files/NETMAR_D7.9.1_ICAN_Semantic_Cookbooks.pdf. The NETMAR team plan to update these cookbooks by June 2012. Please get in touch with CMRC if you wish to give us feedback.

ICAN Prototype and NETMAR Demonstrator

Figure 3. Smart search client components and services

The ICAN Prototype and NETMAR Demonstrator provides a graphical user interface which aims to allow users to search data by meaning rather than by mere keywords. Using the ICAN semantic resources it will enable distributed search across local atlases, such as MIDA (Marine Irish Digital Atlas), OCA (Oregon Coastal Atlas), and Washington Coastal Atlas (WCA). The smart search and discovery client currently supports three features: ontology browsing, dataset smart search, and metadata visualisation. Data visualisation and data download are planned.

The search and discovery client helps the user find relevant datasets by allowing him to browse the ontology terms to find suitable search criteria. The ontology browser lists the defined themes, and by clicking on any one of them, their definition is shown along with related terms. From here, the user can inspect any of the related terms by clicking on them, or move on to searching by entering a keyword in the search field. For example, entering “temperature” will search the ontology for any semantically related terms, and display these with definitions inside the browser. When a user has found a suitable search term, he can enter it in the search field at the top of the Ontology Browser window. This will start the dataset smart search application. The search client will present a summary of all datasets matching the criteria, and the user can then click on any of the found datasets to get a full metadata listing for it.

The smart search and discovery client relies on two services: a semantic web service (SWS) and a CSW (Catalogue Service for the Web) mediator (CSWM), as shown in Figure 3. The semantic web service (SWS) provides a high-level interface for retrieving knowledge from the NETMAR ontologies. On top of the catalogue services, a CSW Mediator is responsible for handling metadata semantics and allows data discovery based on semantics.

A test version of the NETMAR Demonstrator is currently located at http://netmar.ucc.ie/discovery/. Please get in touch with CMRC if you wish to connect your atlas to the demonstrator or give feedback.

NETMAR

The Open Service NETwork for MARine Environmental Data is a 3-year project funded by the European Union under its FP7 programme that started in February 2010.  The objective is prototype portal development using Liferay technology incorporating tools such as a viewer, semantic resource browser, CSW semantically-mediated search and WPS chain editor as portlets.  ICAN was one of four demonstration pilots selected for the project.  The work described above would not have been possible without the NETMAR funding.

NETMAR LogoLogoLogo

Figure 3. Smart search client components and services

Para nuestras Costas

Newsletter, Vol, 8, Nr 1 - Now Available!

We are now entering our 8th year publishing the ICAN newsletter. Many thanks to our Editor Andy Sherin!

Please consider preparing an article for the next newsletter that will likely be published in the fall of this year.
Happy New Year!

Photos from CoastGIS 2018

Our friends from CoastGIS 2018 have posted a wonderful gallery of photos, including the recent ICAN mini-workshop:

See how many ICAN members you can spot!