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.
Join us!

¡Únete a nosotros!

The Wisconsin Coastal Atlas: Helping Build a Coastal Spatial Data Infrastructure

The Wisconsin Coastal Atlas ( is a web resource that helps people better understand coastal issues, share coastal data, and inform decision-making about sustainable use of the Great Lakes. It is intended for use by coastal resource managers, planners, researchers, educators, tourists, and citizen scientists and builds on many years of collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program and the Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to leverage the sizeable investment in local government land information systems and apply geospatial technologies to address Great Lakes issues.

The Wisconsin Coastal Atlas (WCA) is modeled after the Oregon Coastal Atlas ( and organized into four sections: maps, catalog, tools, and learn. A gallery of interactive maps provides customized perspectives related to specific coastal issues in Wisconsin. An example is the Fox-Wolf Hydrologic Dashboard, which visualizes the spatial pattern of large precipitation events and the resulting impacts on streamflow. The catalog section of the atlas provides several paths to discover, assess, and download geospatial data for the Great Lakes coasts of Wisconsin. At the center is a simple data download matrix based on the open data catalog at the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. Finally, the atlas serves as a gateway to spatial decision support tools relevant to Great Lakes management and provides access to educational resources about coastal issues in Wisconsin.

The WCA, however, is more than just a web portal that provides access to coastal data and tools – it is also a research project that is helping to build a coastal spatial data infrastructure for Wisconsin. Since February 2010, the project has tackled several research topics, including: 1) structured design and evaluation of web atlases; 2) guidance on making choices among different web mapping technologies; 3) promotion of sound cartographic design principles for web mapping interfaces; 4) development of effective archives for coastal geospatial data; 5) application of ontology tools to promote semantic mediation of local government spatial data sets to conduct spatial analyses of coastal issues at a regional scale;  and 6) advancing social science methods to improve the effectiveness of coastal decision support tools.  The primary motivation is demonstrating that the atlas can serve as an interoperable resource that both integrates local geospatial data for coastal management in Wisconsin and can serve as a component of a larger networked Great Lakes Coastal Atlas.

One way to demonstrate the WCA as an interoperable resource is through participation in the ICAN Prototype ( A key technologies that supports the WCA is GeoNetwork ( - an interoperable geospatial metadata catalog that supports the Catalogue Service for the Web (CSW) standards developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). A total of 57 geospatial data sets are documented and accessible through the WCA GeoNetwork. With the assistance of Yassine Lassoued, Roy Lowry and Tanya Haddad, the Wisconsin project team followed the steps in the ICAN semantic interoperability pilot cookbooks developed as part of the NETMAR project ( to connect to the ICAN Prototype.  The result is the ability to search for Wisconsin coastal data as part of a global network of coastal atlases.

In an effort to share research findings, papers completed as part of the WCA project are available for download in the “About” section of the atlas. This includes two white papers that may be of interest to the ICAN community:


UN Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Sustainable Development Goal 14

Sustainable Development Goal 14 pertains to conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources. Read more about the status and progress of Goal 14 in 2018 in this article

Para nuestras Costas

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!