Our Data

The Strait of Georgia Data Centre holds data for ecological, environmental and human use data for the Strait of Georgia. The term “Data” is used here in its broadest sense. It is important for us to include information in a variety of formats, including traditional data held in spreadsheets and databases, processed data for direct input to GIS systems and models, existing maps and images, historic photographs, and videos.

Please note that the contents of the SDGC are not complete – this is an ongoing process!  

Design of the Data Portal

The Strait of Georgia Data Portal is built on three main open source applications:

•PostGIS database – holds metadata and data
•GeoNetwork – enables metadata searches and data download, and links elsewhere
•GeoServer – data output, including
  • Re-projection to other coordinate systems so all the data aligns properly
  • Conversion to raster overlays
  • Output formats such as CSV for analysis, PDF for reports, and many others
The repository for industry-standard metadata is software called GeoNetwork.  This application development was funded by the United Nations, and is freely available.  A companion application PostGIS (created by persons in Victoria, BC and used worldwide) is also freely-available and is designed to hold data products.  A third application is GeoServer which operates between the PostGIS data storage unit and the user, and creates a variety of data products at the request of the user. The Strait of Georgia Data Centre is utilizing all three: GeoNetwork, PostGis and GeoServer, and therefore avoids unnecessary costs of software development.
The benefits of this are as follows:
  • Completely compatible with all international standards, facilitating both access and sharing
  • No licencing costs
  • Rapid application development cycles

In the figure below, one can see the three blocks for GeoNetwork, Geoserver, and Datastores, and the functions they provide.  The details are probably only of interest to technicians – however, the important point is that the user has a multiplicity of ways of accessing the data and metadata.

Geoserver picture

There is an international association of organizations creating websites exactly similar to the SoGDC, with the title “Coastal Atlases”.  The association is called International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN), and it has recently (July 2013) become a UNESCO ‘project’.  The benefit of ICAN is that it permits data searches across organizational boundaries, where compatible datasets exist.  Of local significance, the states of Washington, Oregon, and California are all members of ICAN.

ICAN has a semantic search system so that datasets described in different terms can be found.  A dataset example might be ‘shoreline’, which might be described by others as coastline, or high or low water line.  The SoGDC datasets are being documented according to ICAN conventions, and the SoGDC website will be fully compatible.