The portal enables state, federal, and local decision makers to visualize, query, map, and analyze data for ocean planning in the region.
A new decision-support and information system is available for coastal resource managers and others involved in ocean planning from the Gulf of Maine to Long Island Sound. The Internet portal builds on existing efforts in the Northeast and provides access to data, interactive maps, tools, and other information needed for decision-making.
“The portal isn’t meant to be one big database,” says Daniel Martin, senior software architect for IMSG working at the NOAA Coastal Services Center. “We’ve gone after higher priority data products, and where we needed to, we collected, integrated, and linked to existing data from across the whole region.”
The Northeast Ocean Data Portal features an easy-to-use interactive map of data on human uses, environmental features, and political and administrative boundaries, as well as provides access to interactive and static maps, atlases, and models for coastal and marine spatial planning.
The portal enables state, federal, and local decision makers to visualize, query, map, and analyze data for ocean planning in the region. The data are also available to the public and can be viewed online and downloaded for use in GIS platforms.
The site was funded and developed by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council’s Northeast Ocean Data Portal Working Group. Core members of the group included SeaPlan, The Nature Conservancy, Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), NOAA Coastal Services Center, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and Applied Science Associates.
“The initial idea for this was the recognition of a couple things,” says John Weber, ocean planning director of the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC). “The first thing is that ocean planning is data dependent, and just acquiring existing data is very time consuming. The other thing was that we knew the National Ocean Policy was coming out and the first thing we would need is the architecture to support the data end of that.”
The U.S. National Ocean Policy of 2010 calls for regional-scale coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) supported by a robust data management system containing coastal and marine scientific data sets and products. CMSP is a collaborative process that depends on access to a wide range of data on environmental, socioeconomic, and regulatory parameters. However, many of these data have been inaccessible and scattered among different providers.
The Northeast Ocean Data Portal Working Group strove to “bring data and information into one place to support regional projects,” says Nick Napoli, group chair, who during the writing of this story was transitioning from his position as director of marine planning for SeaPlan to the Northeast Regional Ocean Council.
Since the launch of the data portal in June 2011, Napoli says the working group’s efforts have focused on continued advancement of NROC-identified priorities, including the integration of key data sets and the development of functionality to access, visualize, and analyze those data.
“I feel good about where we are, but I also recognize there’s so much more to do,” Napoli says.
For more information, contact Nick Napoli at (518) 524-4685 or firstname.lastname@example.org, John Weber at (617) 875-1377 or email@example.com, or Daniel Martin at (781) 545-8026, ext. 212, or Daniel.Martin@noaa.gov. To view the Northeast Ocean Data Portal, go to http://northeastoceandata.org.