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.


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)


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


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.
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ICAN 1 Presentations - Atlas Issues

Potentials and Limitations of Coastal Web Atlases
Issue-Based Presentations

Government Support for Coastal Atlases (3.3 Mb pdf)

presented by Tony Lavoi, NOAA Coastal Services Center, South Carolina, USA
Abstract:This presentation will focus on a series of federal efforts to coordinate and provide enhanced access to coastal and marine data within the United States. The presentation will cover the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), highlighting the role of ocean and coastal geospatial data within what to date has been a terrestrial focused effort. Information will be provided on both Geospatial One-Stop, a federal E-government project to improve the ability of the public and government to use geospatial information, and the National Ocean Service (NOS) Data Explorer, the primary Internet portal to obtain NOS spatial data. There will also be a discussion of the Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping efforts to create an inventory of US ocean and coastal mapping programs. Lastly information will be provided on some recent activities within the Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) community on data standards and transport systems.
URLs: (NOAA Coastal Services Center) (NOS Data Explorer) (Geospatial One-Stop) (Federal Geographic Data Committee, FGDC) (FGDC Marine & Coastal Spatial Data Subcommittee) (FGDC Marine Boundary Working Group) (U.S. Ocean Action Plan) (U.S. Ocean Action Plan) (Ocean.US Community Information Repository) (Coastal GeoTools '07 Conference in March 2007)
Streaming Video: Tony.wmv

End Users of MIDA - A Government Perspective
(4.23 Mb pdf)
presented by Trevor Harrison, Environment & Heritage Service, Northern Ireland, UK
Abstract: Government agencies in Northern Ireland are responsible for the management and conservation of the coastal and marine environment; this obligation arises out of government’s commitment to meet international agreements as well as European and national legislation. Sound environmental information is vital for sound management decisions regarding the marine and coastal environment; it is also important for monitoring the effects of these management decisions as well as reporting these results to stakeholders and the general public. This information is typically presented or required in a simplified summary format. This simplified summary information, however, must be based on sound, quality data; the procedures followed in producing the summary information must also be scientifically auditable.
URLs: | (UK Nature Barometer)
Streaming Video: T.Marrison.wmv

Institutional Barriers to the Irish Spatial Data Exchange (ISDE) Project
(3.0 Mb ppt)
presented by John Evans, Marine Institute, Galway, IRELAND
Abstract: The Irish Spatial Data Exchange is a discovery meta-data service for spatially referenced data sets in Ireland. The Exchange was developed in partnership by the Marine Institute, the Geological Survey of Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre at UCC using funds provided by the Information Society Fund. In this presentation John will give an overview of the Exchange and speak about the mainly non-technical institutional problems that arose during the Exchange's development.
URLs: (ISDE Metadata Search) (Services & Data Exchange Catalogue, SDEC) (Marine Institute)
Streaming Video: J.Evans.wmv

Scalability and Automation: Cyberinfrastructure for an Imperfect World
(3.4 Mb pdf)
presented by Steve Miller, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
Intellectual Property Issues (24 Kb ppt)
presented by John Helly, San Diego Supercomputer Center, USA
Abstract: Since the launching of the SIOExplorer online archive five years ago, the collection has grown to hold the data from 693 expeditions by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), dating back to 1953. The bulk of the collection comes from multibeam swath mapping of the seafloor (300 expeditions), but the SIOExplorer Digital Library holds 102,000 objects from many diverse sensors, as well as documents and images. The collection is accessible with a Java CruiseViewer graphical interface over a global map, as well as from a webform or from Google.
   While initially it appeared that the sheer volume of data from 300 multibeam expeditions would be the biggest obstacle, in practice it turns out that most of the problems derive from the complexity of the data. We have faced more than a few challenges in automating the building of the digital collections over a diverse set of scientific domains. During this span of 53 years there has been a continuing evolution of sensors, recording media, vessels, careers, naming conventions, and cumbersome mixtures of intermediate and final data products. In addition to the SIO Cruise Collection, the SIOExplorer Digital Library now includes federated collections for the historic SIO Photo Archives, the SIO Marine Geological Samples (dredged rocks and cores), the EarthRef Seamounts and an Educator’s Collection of classroom resources for plate tectonics.
   These efforts would have been impossible, or at least cost-prohibitive, without the help of the emerging field of Cyberinfrastructure. A metadata template file (mtf) synchronizes the arbitrary digital objects (ado’s) with a structured approach to metadata. Scalability is insured by the structured mtf approach, allowing new classes of data to be added or entirely new collections to be built, without redesigning the digital library code. Data files have been automatically identified and metadata harvested with very little human intervention, using a set of prioritized based on directories and filenames.
   We are now in the midst of a transition to a second generation mtf approach, which makes greater use of formal controlled vocabularies, thereby insuring even greater scalability. A recent award “Multi-Institution Testbed for Scalable Digital Archiving,” is supporting the development of a related collection at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) which will provide online access to more than 5000 explorations of the seafloor, including Alvin submersible and Jason ROV data, along with WHOI cruises. A recent breakthrough has enabled federated searches across the SIOExplorer and the WHOI collections, as well as a collection of Arctic data at Oregon State University. Funding for the testbed is from the DIGARCH initiative, a joint program of NSF and the Library of Congress, NSF IIS 0455998.
Streaming Video: S.Miller_J.Helly.wmv

Atlas Design and Usability
(5.96 Mb pdf)
presented by Liz O'Dea, CMRC, Cork, IRELAND
Abstract: One of the key challenges of developing a coastal web atlas is its design and usability to meet both the owner’s and users’ needs. Depending on these needs, effective atlas design can be as simple as easy-to-navigate web pages with static maps, or as complex as providing interactive advanced GIS functionality. The interface should make access to data and information intuitive for the users, taking into consideration their technical skills, interests and reasons for using the atlas. Simultaneously it should deliver the data and information efficiently to meet the purpose of the atlas. Obtaining feedback from the target atlas audience throughout the development process is important to its success in order to ensure that both the owner’s and users’ needs are met.
   Atlas design is not limited to the visible web interface. The design of the components behind the scenes is important for the stability and speed of the system. Time investment is needed to research hardware and software options (and their combinations) which are the most suitable. Consideration must also be given towards the development of a tailored database management system to ensure the efficient management of data (e.g. adding and updating data and metadata, data size and quantity) as well as supplemental information (e.g., related documents and tools).
   This presentation will discuss these issues more in depth, focusing on the experience gained through the development of the Marine Irish Digital Atlas.
Streaming Video: L.Odea.wmv

Coastal Atlas Tools (9.9 Mb ppt)
presented by Tanya Haddad and Paul Klarin, Oregon Ocean Coastal Management Program, USA
Abstract: The Oregon Coastal Atlas, a collaboration of the Oregon Coastal Management Program, Oregon State University and Ecotrust, is an interactive map, data, and metadata portal targeted at coastal managers, scientists, and the general public. The site was developed to meet long-standing needs in the state for improving information retrieval, visualization and interpretation for decision-making relating to the coastal zone. It has the ambitious goal of being a useful resource for the various audiences that make up the management constituency of the Oregon Coastal Zone. The site provides background information for different coastal systems, as well as the expected access to interactive mapping, online geospatial analysis tools, and direct download access to an array of natural resource data sets relating to coastal zone management. Therefore as a portal, the Oregon Coastal Atlas enables users to search and find data, but also to understand its original context, and put it to use via online tools in order to solve a spatial problem. We will describe in detail the various online tools of the atlas, some that are used for viewing data, some that are used for geospatial analysis; and tools for a diverse audience– some best suited for coastal planners and researchers, some for contributors to the atlas, and some for the general public.
URLs: (book chapter)
Streaming Video: P.Klarin_T.Haddad.wmv


Working Group Results
Technology (.doc) - led by Dawn Wright, presented by Eamonn O Tuama
Streaming Video: Eamonn.wmv

Data (.doc #1) and (.doc #2) - led by Ned Dwyer, presented by John Helly
Streaming Video: J.Helly.wmv

Design & Usability (.doc) - led by Liz O'Dea, presented by Kuuipo Walsh
Streaming Video: Kuuipo.wmv

Institutional Capacity (.ppt) - led by Val Cummins, presented by Tony Lavoi
Streaming Video: T.Lavoi.wmv

ICAN 1 Presentations - Atlas Case Studies


PowerPoint files, Abstracts, URLs and Windows Media Player Video from Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Potentials and Limitations of Coastal Web Atlases
Case Studies/Showcase of Coastal Atlases

Introduction to Cork Workshop, part 1 (4.6 Mb ppt)

presented by Val Cummins, CMRC
Streaming Video: Val_intro.wmv

Introduction to Cork Workshop, part 2
(5.7 Mb ppt)
presented by Dawn Wright, Oregon State University
Streaming Video: Dawn_intro.wmv

UK Case Study: UK Coastal and Marine Resources Atlas
(615 Kb ppt)
presented by Kevin Colcomb, Counter Pollution and Response Branch of the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, UK
URLs: |
Abstract:The Coastal and Marine Resource Atlas was commissioned by a consortium of project collaborators from UK public bodies and industry, in recognition of the need to update the 1990 coastal sensitivity maps produced by the Nature Conservancy Council. The Atlas contains environmental and other resource datasets covering the Great Britain coastline and marine areas of the UK Continental Shelf. The Atlas is designed as a web based tool to access a wide range of information on coastal and marine resources. Critically, there is a sustainable mechanism in place by which the atlas will be maintained and updated, ensuring that it remains accurate and fit for purpose.
   The atlas incorporates a series of 100 priority datasets describing important coastal and marine habitats and species, as well as physical geography and relevant infrastructure. This key information will meet the needs of operational staff involved in national coastal and marine contingency planning, pollution incident response and clean up. The atlas also provides a resource for a wider audience of environmental professionals and researchers.
   The atlas was launched as a sub-topic on the UK Defra MAGIC website in November 2005. MAGIC is an ideal host for the atlas because it is already widely known and used by environmental professionals, has an expert data management team in place, and conforms to good practice in the management of geographical information.
Contact Kevin Colcomb for more information.
Streaming Video: K.Colomb.wmv

Belgian Case Study: De Kustatlas Online ("The Coastal Atlas Online")
(10.9 Mb ppt)
presented by Kathy Belpaeme, Coordination Centre for Integrated Coastal Zone Management, BELGIUM
URLs:: |
Abstract:The Co-ordination Centre for Integrated Coastal Zone Management launched De Kustatlas Online on 16th November 2005. This site gives information on several themes and activities on the coast, such as environment and nature, tourism and recreation, industry and business, fisheries and agriculture, culture and heritage and coastal defence.
Where are the nature reserves and wildlife areas on the coast and at sea?
Where are the wooden and stone groins on our coast?
What is the value of fish landings in Belgian harbours since 1950?
Where are the maritime transport routes situated and do they come into
conflict with the windmill parks?

You can find an answer on these questions and many more about the coast on
   The site is unique! The flexibility and interactivity make it possible to produce maps, to export maps for use in presentations or publications, to consult data and GIS files and on the basis of this, to work with coastal data. Due to the relation with the sustainability indicators, the coastal data are put in the picture and a direct relation with coastal management is made possible.
   The website is a result of the book ‘The Coastal Atlas Flanders-Belgium’. This publication was a big success. The formula of an illustrative, but scientifically well-founded book has caught on well with many target groups. There was also much international interest. To meet the demand of students, scientists and governments for maps and data, the Co-ordination Centre decided to make a website. The website is fully available in four languages, so that our coast can also be discovered abroad.
   Now that the book is no longer available in bookshops, the website will become more and more interesting for students, teachers, governments and coastal-lovers. The Coastal Atlas online is an initiative of the Co-ordination Centre for Integrated Coastal Zone Management.
For more information contact Kathy Belpaeme.
Streaming Video: Kathy.wmv

Irish Case Study: The Marine Irish Digital Atlas
(9.2 Mb ppt)
presented by Ned Dwyer, CMRC, University College Cork, IRELAND
Abstract:The Marine Irish Digital Atlas (MIDA) aims to become the most comprehensive online resource for spatial data and information regarding Ireland’s coastal and inshore marine areas. The web-GIS that forms its core currently hosts over 100 data layers from more than 30 different organizations.
   Users can interactively visualise and query these national and island-wide spatial datasets, search metadata to identify data owners, and view descriptive information, imagery and links in the MIDA InfoPort. This talk will present the context in which the atlas was developed and the experience of data and metadata collection, preparation and management. It will also look at atlas functionality and some of the technologies used in the implementation. Finally, MIDA’s participation as a node in the Irish Spatial Data Exchange (ISDE) and atlas development plans will be presented.
   MIDA is currently the only web GIS in Ireland to bring together spatial data from so many organisations, and it has been named a key part of marine infrastructure in Ireland. It is a successful cross-border effort, funded in the Republic of Ireland by the Higher Education Authority under the National Development Plan and in Northern Ireland by the Department of the Environment's Environment and Heritage Service.
For more infomation contact Ned Dwyer, Liz O'Dea or Ciara Herron (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
Streaming Video: Ned.wmv

Oregon Case Study 1: The Oregon Coastal Atlas
(4.5 Mb ppt)
presented by Dawn Wright, Oregon State University, USA
Abstract: The Oregon Coastal Atlas: Infrastructure for Data Sharing, Spatial Analysis, Resource Decision-Making, and Societal Impact. The Oregon Coastal Atlas, a collaboration of the Oregon Coastal Management Program, Oregon State University and Ecotrust, is an interactive map, data, and metadata portal targeted at coastal managers, scientists, and the general public. The site was developed to meet long-standing needs in the state for improving information retrieval, visualization and interpretation for decision-making relating to the coastal zone. It has the ambitious goal of being a useful resource for the various audiences that make up the management constituency of the Oregon Coastal Zone. The site provides background information for different coastal systems, as well as the expected access to interactive mapping, online geospatial analysis tools, and direct download access to an array of natural resource data sets relating to coastal zone management. Therefore as a portal, the Oregon Coastal Atlas enables users to search and find data sets, but also to understand their original context, and put them to use via online tools in order to solve a spatial problem. This project was primarily funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Coastal Services Center.
Streaming Video: Dawn_oregon.wmv

Oregon Case Study 2: The North Coast Explorer
(2.2 Mb ppt)
presented by Renee Davis-Born, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon State University, USA
URLs: |
Abstract: North Coast Explorer: Information to Help Local Citizens and Policymakers Make Better Decisions about Natural Resources. The North Coast Explorer is an interactive website that provides citizens and policymakers information about Oregon coastal watersheds and the species that inhabit them. The portal was created through a collaboration of the Institute for Natural Resources, OSU Libraries and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board in response to legislative direction to coordinate data and make natural resource information available to the public. The web portal facilitates access to data and information from a wide variety of sources to citizens and decision-makers actively involved in natural resource use, policy and planning. Through the portal, users can search for and download information, map spatial data, generate statistics about a particular area, and submit information to the portal library. The portal serves as a prototype for other interactive websites focusing on natural resources at the scale of water basins and for the Oregon Explorer, a statewide natural-resources digital library. The Oregon Explorer and its basin portals offer a single access point on the web to Oregon natural resources information, integrating information from many sources by creating a community of users and giving decision-support tools that allow users to analyze information of relevance to specific issues.
Streaming Video: Renee.wmv

Virginia Case Study: Mapping Tools for Coastal Management in Virginia
(25.8 Mb ppt)
presented by Marcia Berman, Virginia Institute for Marine Science, USA
URLs: (main site) (Shoreline Inventory) (Shoreline Managers' Assessment Kit, SMAK) (Wetlands Data Viewer)
Abstract: The state of mapping tools for coastal management in Virginia is best described as “all over the map”. This in part reflects a lack of collaborative effort between and among agencies of the Commonwealth and the academic community, as well as a definitive lag in recognizing the benefits of such applications. Thus far, no coordinated enterprise can call themselves a true “atlas”, however, a review of current products and tools suggest that the development of a coastal atlas is certainly within reach.
   The Center for Coastal Resources Management develops and maintains a digital shoreline inventory and a number of resource mapping applications. These products target local governments primarily, but have a state and regional focus as well. Collectively they encompass a growing electronic toolbox of resources developed to improve the local and regional planning capacity for decision-making. The toolbox potentially provides the foundation for future development of a coastal atlas.
   The Virginia Shoreline Inventory includes maps, tables and GIS data about condition along tidal shoreline in Virginia. It is however, incomplete. Blue Infrastructure delineates essential aquatic resources within Virginia’s coastal zone and uses the ArcIMS technology to reach the widest audience possible. OSCAR, the Oil Spill Clean-up and Response tool provides direction to individuals and agencies called to respond to oil spill clean-up needs. OSCAR is an outgrowth of the national initiative known as the Environmental Sensitivity Index Atlas developed by NOAA for oil spill response. These represent examples of tools developed to enhance management and planning within Virginia’s coastal zone.
   This presentation will review these and other products in the CCRM toolbox and assess whether elements that comprise a coastal atlas are present. Critical components that are missing will be identified. Any current or proposed activities that will move progress forward toward a desired end will be highlighted.
Streaming Video: Marcia.wmv

Introduction to Issue-Specific Working Groups (for Wednesday)(486 Kb ppt)
presented by Liz O'Dea, CMRC


  For our Coasts

Vol, 8, Nr 2 - Now Available!

We are now entering our 9th 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 spring 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!