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Implementing an organisational SDI: what works and what doesn’t
Keith Wishart*, Mike Brown** and Peter Vodden***
*Esri (UK), Aylesbury, UK, * NERC, Lancaster, UK, *** CEH, Lancaster, UK
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere. As part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), they provide National Capability based on innovative, independent and interdisciplinary science and long-term environmental monitoring, forming an integral part of NERC's vision and strategy. CEH are a major custodian of environmental data, including 20 million records of 12,000 species occurring across Britain and Ireland, as well as records of over 50,000 station years of daily and monthly river flow data, derived from over 1,300 gauging stations throughout the UK.
In 2009, CEH launched its Information Gateway. The Information Gateway is the tool for finding, viewing and accessing data resources held by the Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC) and other data providers in the UK and beyond. The CEH Information Gateway is a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) consisting of a rich Data Catalogue that describes the nature and scope of CEH data resources. Users of the Information Gateway can discover CEH data resources, view details about each resource, view spatial data using a map viewer, create a personal account and download data. The Information Gateway is implemented using SDI technology from Esri and its partners.
In this paper we will describe the implementation and ongoing plans for the Information Gateway addressing not just the technology and standards adopted but also outlining the broader organisational, cultural and economic (benefits case) aspects. Specifically, our focus will be on what worked and what didn’t work in practice for CEH with the objective of helping other organisations plan and implement their SDI’s, create governance models, raise awareness amongst users and stakeholders and realise true economic benefits.
Key to the Information Gateway's success was a series of awareness-raising events with users although these also highlighted cultural barriers to data sharing amongst the scientific community. We will discuss approaches to changing the mind-set of data users to promote wider data sharing.
We will also discuss the design and functionality of the Information Gateway and how initial approaches to a rich, ‘value-added’ interface proved to be more than required in the first instance but have paved the way for long-term development of the Gateway.
We will highlight the organisational benefits derived from this work which go far beyond the Gateway itself. The Gateway has been an integral part of developing a robust data and information management culture throughout the organisation.
Finally, we will discuss future plans for extending the Gateway beyond traditional forms of digital data