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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COINAtlantic introduces Version 2 of its Search Utility

Andy Sherin
Director, ACZISC Secretariat
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The Atlantic Coastal Zone Information Steering Committee (ACZISC) has released version 2 of the COINAtlantic Search Utility (CSU2). The CSU2 is a web-based tool that searches the internet for spatial data resources that meet the search criteria of the user and enables the user to add the resulting spatial resources to an interactive map (see Figure). The CSU2 uses the Google search API to find spatial data resources in KML or as OGC Web Mapping Services (WMS) and displays the first twenty results for the user to choose from to add to the map. The user can also add a layer to the map from a WMS they know the url for. The CSU2 is customizable taking the default map layers from an editable configuration file.  Online mapping is done using the Open Source Geospatial Foundation's OpenLayers Web mapping software.



Version 2 replaces COINAtlantic Search Utility Version 1 released in 2008 that relied solely on searching one data base via an API, Canada’s GeoConnections Discovery Portal (GDP). Initially the GDP was intended to grow to be a national repository for metadata, but over the years, organizations developed their own data bases so the GDP focussed mostly on spatial data delivered by one department of the Canadian federal government. This development severely limiting the scope of searches that could be satisfied. CSU2 was designed to bypass accessing individual data bases and use the ubiquitous internet searches to find spatial data resources.

The CSU2 works together with the COINAtlantic GeoContent Generator (CGG), another web-based tool developed by the ACZISC. The CGG enables a user to describe an organization, a project, a report or publication of a data set with basic attribute information (see Table) and link it to a point, line or polygon that describes the spatial extent of the entry. The tool then builds a KML file of the attribute and geographic information and stores it as a file on the ACZISC site and informs the Google search utilities of its location using a Sitemap submission. The CSU2 automatically refers to these files when executing a search.

The user can describe the geography of the entry in the CGG in three ways:

  • By hand drawing a point, line or polygon;
  • By using one of the polygons from the CGG library of polygons for jurisdictions (e.g. municipal boundaries) and biophysical areas (e.g. watersheds); or
  • Uploading an existing KML file from their computer.

Enhancements to the tools are planned. For the  CGG, the user friendliness of the interface for the CGG will be improved, the library of KML polygons for users to choose from will be expanded, and the functionality to permit users to edit their own files will be introduced. For the CSU2, the legend functionality will be improved, ways for the user to add WMS layers to the interactive map will be expanded, inclusion of Catalog on the Web (CWS), Web Feature (WFS) and Web Processing (WPS) services will be investigated, and the migration to an open source GIS infrastructure will take place.
The CGG and the CSU2 are available for use and exploration at and respectively. The ACZISC Secretariat would appreciate any feedback on your experience using these tools. Please contact us with your comments at Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.

Attribute Mandatory Description
Type of entry described Controlled list Permitted values: an organization, a project, a publication, or a data set.
Contact name  Yes Name of the person making the entry
Contact e-mail Yes E-mail of above
Title Yes Short title for the entry
Description Yes Verbose description of the entry for full text indexing by Google
Contact mailing address No Mailing address of contact name
Geographic location No Textual description of the geographic location for the entry
Dataset language No Language or languages for the entry
URL website address No The URL of a relevant website e.g. for the organization, etc.
URL mapping service No If the entry describes an OGC compatible service, the GetCapabilities URL
URL standard metadata No If standardized (e.g. ISO) and more detailed metadata exists, the URL that provides access to it.

COINAtlantic Search Utility Enhanced

The Atlantic Coastal Zone Information Steering Committee’s (ACZISC) COINAtlantic Search Utility (CSU) has received a number of enhancements. The CSU searches the internet using the Google Custom Search API for web mapping services (WMS) and KML spatial resources that meet the search criteria entered by the user. The user can then chose to add the resulting resources to the map and save the map as an image, pdf or Geotiff.

The CSU enhancements include:

  1. The speed of loading the application has been improved by reducing the size of Java script libraries;

  2. A web mapping service can now be added to the map directly from the “URL link to functional mapping server” field found in the metadata display at the bottom of the CSU window (see red box in the figure above for the WMS provided by the Ocean Tracking Network);

  3. The CSU now uses the GetLegendGraphic feature of the WMS standard to display a legend for an added spatial resource;

  4. The CSU maintains a local data base of discovered spatial resources that can also be searched using the “Local Database Search” tab. When the “Add WMS layer” feature of the CSU is executed manually by the user, the URL and abstract metadata for the added WMS layer is added to the local database.

Thusly, the local database grows with the use of the CSU, accumulating the results of searches and the manual entries of WMS.

The metadata displayed at the bottom of the figure above was generated by the COINAtlantic GeoContent Generator (CGG), a web-based application, that captures ‘bare bones’ discovery metadata and integrates it with a graphic KML (i.e. point, line, or polygon) that describes the geography the entry is relevant to. The KML can be chosen from a library of KML templates, drawn by hand, or uploaded. The CGG then publishes the KML to the internet and facilitates its discovery by the Google search engine.

Further enhancements are planned including enabling the local database to respond to CSW requests and the CSU search to query CSW-compatible metadata catalogs in addition to the present search of the internet.

The new version of the CSU will be released to coincide with the COINAtlantic Training Workshop to be held on 20 June 2014 just after the Coastal Zone Canada 2014 conference being held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada from 15-19 June 2014. The workshop will not only familiarize participants with the use of the CSU and the CGG, but Jeff McKenna of Gateway Geomatics will take participants ‘under the hood’ and introduce the Open Source components used to build the tools. Follow @coinatlantic for the announcement of the new version of the CSU.

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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!