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Navas, F., Guisado-Pintado, E., and Malvárez, G., 2016. Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting on coastal and marine areas. In: Vila-Concejo, A.; Bruce, E.; Kennedy, D.M., and McCarroll, R.J. (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th International Coastal Symposium (Sydney, Australia). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 75, pp. 957–961. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208. The powerful development of technology has allowed coastal sciences to advance significantly towards developing forecasting tools coupling empirical measurements with computer modelling, which proves to be of paramount importance for most decision making processes. However, coastal models and forecasting tools are data hungry and, whilst data and information availability for regional scales is more abundant than ever, the need for harmonised and compatible data-formats to integrate spatialised data continues to be an issue to feed these models. On the data and information side of development, interoperable systems appear to be somewhat limited to mapping agencies and computer scientists who focus on issues that are, to some extent, of limited relevance to coastal and marine scientists. In recent years however, this gap is being bridged by Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) in the framework of the INSPIRE Directive, which are showing to provide, via its integration with worldwide initiatives such as GEOSS and others, a source of great advances. In this paper we present two SDI designed, developed and implemented to be applied in coastal and marine management. Both platforms have taken a focused approach at spatial data manipulation favouring the use of specific viewers with circumscribed tools for making onscreen analyses and interpretations and capable of generating atlas-like products in real time dedicated to specific policies of relevance to the coastal and marine institutional framework.
Journal of Coastal Research SI 75 957-961 Coconut Creek
,
Florida 2016
____________________
DOI: 10.2112/SI75-192.1 received 15 October 2015; accepted in
revision 15 January 2016.
*Corresponding author: fnavas@upo.es
©Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2016
Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting
on coastal and marine areas
Fatima Navas, Emilia Guisado-Pintadoand Gonzalo Malvárez
Physical Geography Area. Universidad Pablo de
Olavide, Sevilla. CP 41013 (Spain)
fnavas@upo.es
Coastal Environments Research Group, Universidad
Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla. CP 41013 (Spain)
ABSTRACT
Navas, F., Guisado-Pintado, E., and Malvárez, G., 2016. Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting on
coastal and marine areas. In: Vila-Concejo, A.; Bruce, E.; Kennedy, D.M., and McCarroll, R.J. (eds.), Proceedings of
the 14th International Coastal Symposium (Sydney, Australia). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 75,
pp. 957-961. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
The powerful development of technology has allowed coastal sciences to advance significantly towards developing
forecasting tools coupling empirical measurements with computer modelling, which proves to be of paramount
importance for most decision making processes. However, coastal models and forecasting tools are data hungry and,
whilst data and information availability for regional scales is more abundant than ever, the need for harmonised and
compatible data-formats to integrate spatialised data continues to be an issue to feed these models. On the data and
information side of development, interoperable systems appear to be somewhat limited to mapping agencies and
computer scientists who focus on issues that are, to some extent, of limited relevance to coastal and marine scientists.
In recent years however, this gap is being bridged by Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) in the framework of the
INSPIRE Directive, which are showing to provide, via its integration with worldwide initiatives such as GEOSS and
others, a source of great advances. In this paper we present two SDI designed, developed and implemented to be
applied in coastal and marine management. Both platforms have taken a focused approach at spatial data
manipulation favouring the use of specific viewers with circumscribed tools for making onscreen analyses and
interpretations and capable of generating atlas-like products in real time dedicated to specific policies of relevance to
the coastal and marine institutional framework.
ADDITIONAL INDEX WORDS: Spatial Data Infrastructures, GEOSS, Geographic Information Sciences, Coastal
and Marine Management.
INTRODUCTION
In recent years coastal scientists and users at large have seen
increasing access to an enormous and continuous flow of spatial
information and much of this information is georeferenced. In
the last 30 years, the amount of georeferenced data available has
grown exponentially in line with the swift improvement of new
communication channels and technologies such as the rapid
development of spatial data capture technologies i.e. Global
Positioning Systems (GPS), remote sensing images, sensors, etc.
However, finding and accessing certain environmental and
socioeconomic information is neither always straightforward nor
adequate for further utilization of the data contained in the
information (Albert and Dobbs, 2012). It appears that with the
wealth of available spatialised information, a wider audience
within the scientific and other user communities is demanding
access to spatial information and, critically, to the data
associated with maps and remote sensing products showing via
internet resources such as map viewers (Cinnirella et al., 2012).
Once a generalized use of geographic information technologies
has demonstrated the widespread applicability, the first
development of transforming maps into interoperability products
affected cartographic outputs. These were maps visible via
internet browsers without the need of extensive and expensive
data transfer for processing on desktop applications.
Advanced mapping, achievable using web based
technologies, allows the downloading of relevant data for more
detailed local analysis by simple Geographic Information
System (GIS) manipulation. However, beyond desktop
solutions, online geospatial tools can assist in identifying ideal
or potential locations for new projects in coastal areas. Other
uses include discovery of new maps, visualization, and provide
in some cases access to the raw data. This can be the case of
dedicated Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) with an architecture
developed through web-based geonodes (i.e. from data
providers) that can integrate, through standardised services,
significantly enlarged access to available geographical
information. This implies using interoperable spatial information
that allows coordination across organizations, joining together
land and sea management bodies and reducing the costs of
delivery. Likewise, managers and decision makers can create
and evaluate different policy scenarios for coastal and marine
management by examining the effects of different coastal
activities in relation to policy targets. In certain circumstances, it
can help visualize the consequences of different management
approaches on coastal processes such as erosion, floods or other
associated risks. Maps may be generated in support of disaster
prevention efforts and response to emergencies.
www.JCRonline.org
www.cerf-jcr.org
Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting on coastal and marine areas
Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 75, 2016
958
Interoperability requires the compliance with standards,
normally driven by OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium), such
as the Web Map Services (WMS) created to show, remotely,
maps on the web in the form of services (Plesea, 2008). Like
any other maps colours represented the different variables.
Along with the mapped information (coloured) spatial
information in the context of interoperability must also contain
metadata, which consist of data about the spatial data. This
accompanying database includes a variety of relevant
information regarding geometric and cartographic details related
to the map. This has been where the impact of the EU promoted
INSPIRE Directive (European Union, 2007) has been greatest
for all governmental agencies developing cartographic products,
since the obligation to metadata maps has proved a colossal task.
The positive effect is that nowadays, still within the scope of
INSPIRE implementation at regional and national levels in
Europe, most mapping agencies are complying with the
requirements. However, this vision is not applicable to a
significant amount of information being generated by scientists
and other stakeholders who are not involved in the many
requisites implicit in complying with the development of
interoperable spatial information. Cartographic agencies are
today the main agents and drivers of mapping services and tools.
Other types of web based services potentially of great
usability by scientific users include Web Coverage Service
(WCS) which offers multi-dimensional coverage data for access
over the Internet or Web Feature Services (WFS), which are
more adequate for data manipulation and further application.
WCS and WFS are more complex and thus are infrequent as an
output of scientific research results (other than geospatial
research).
Commonly, national spatial data infrastructures have been
directed toward terrestrial information, leaving marine data
largely underdeveloped. Thematic SDIs can cover coastal and
marine infrastructures, land uses changes as well as marine
habitats and biodiversity (Fowler et al., 2010), but, most
importantly, they reinforce the need for a cohesive and decisive
management and administration strategy for coastal zones
(Binns 2004; Strain et al., 2006).
Finally, a future area for development of interoperable data
systems is environmental process modelling. Many are the
examples demonstrating the need for data accessibility for
application in modelling of coastal and marine environments.
The issues affecting the slow development of interoperable
settings for modelling and forecasting are also related to the
land-sea divide (a spatial problem in geodatabases) that prevents
marine based models to integrate easily land data. Also, in
purely marine datasets the inherent level of complexity requires
addressing data processes at the individual data type level
(Ojeda et al., 2006). Issues like standardization, authoritative
sources, and user needs are still being resolved for the more
complex data in these contexts.
In terms of data input and output for modelling applications,
SDI are currently finding quite challenging the transferability of
results as well as general approaches to data use. For instance, in
the development of marine ecosystem indicators the use of
spatial data to feed computer based models (e.g. food chain
models) could require time series at various depths as input. In
the case of sea surface temperature models derived from satellite
observation, the limitations are commonly related to harvesting
of data sets shown just as “colour maps” where data is reduced
in WMS to the colour pallet use to draw the map instead of the
actual value represented. Another significant drawback is the
need, in marine ecosystem modelling too, to use three-
dimensional datasets (e.g. NetCDF files), which are frequently
out of the scope of interoperable maps produced by mapping
agencies. Three-dimensional variables (such as concentrations in
the water column) can be incorporated as interoperable packages
by using layered depth-variable maps. However, these and many
examples continue to be specific developments and are not
found in most SDI accessible on the web from mapping
authorities.
Coastal and Marine scientists find frequently that the usual
issues negatively affecting their research is still a limiting factor
in data availability and quality despite the great wealth of data
generated. In this paper, two dedicated SDI designed, developed
and implemented for coastal and marine management are used
as case study to provide the basis for discussion on the role of
spatial data interoperability as supporting tool for future
forecasting on coastal and marine areas. The PEGASO SDI (P-
SDI) and the MEDINA e-Infrastructure (MeI) are two mapping
platforms that have taken a focused approach at spatial data
manipulation favouring the use of specific viewers to include
tools for making onscreen analyses and interpretations capable
of generating atlas-like products in real time dedicated to
specific policies of relevance to the coastal and marine
institutional framework.
Forecasting can be achieved in two ways in these mapping
platforms: (i) producing new maps in an online Atlas based on
trends, such as Interoperable versions of Cumulative
Environmental Impact maps; and (ii) by creating interoperable
maps based on modelling providing access to complex and
comprehensive information for further forecasting tools (e.g.
location of aquaculture industry, Posidonia oceanica
occurrence).
CASE STUDY
The PEGASO SDI (P-SDI) and the MEDINA e-Infrastructure
(MeI) are described in detail to illustrate their technical structure
and their potential for addressing the challenges that
stakeholders and scientific users could face.
The development of P-SDI responds to the need to establish a
solid and interoperable distributed platform to support the
implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Protocol for the Mediterranean (UNEP-MAP, 2008).
Conceptually the P-SDI is built via a number of geonodes,
which are centrally managed, but all serving their cartographic
products to support the development of environmental indicators
and other mapping tools, including land-sea interactions.
The MeI is a cyber infrastructure developed and registered in
the GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems)
which is fully devoted to showing and manipulating earth
observation and modelling products in the context of marine
ecosystem monitoring in North African Mediterranean
countries.
Structure and components of the P-SDI.
Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting on coastal and marine areas
Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 75, 2016
959
The P-SDI is a distributed shared infrastructure made up of
geonodes and with three main components: a map viewer, map
services and a spatial catalogue. Thanks to this spatial data
infrastructure, services and datasets related to the project
PEGASO (www.pegasoproject.eu) can be used and shared by
end users (stakeholders, researchers, communities, etc.) from a
great variety of sources in a standardized, harmonized and
interoperable way.
The P-SDI has been designed to support the PEGASO Shared
Governance Platform for the delivery of Integrated Coastal Zone
Management (ICZM), and the integrated assessments of coastal
zones and marine areas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
All technologies employed in the development and
implementation of P-SDI are open source with the structure of a
composed stack of technologies both in the server and client
side. On the server side, there is an implementation of an OGC
(Open Geospatial Consortium) compliant server that delivers
maps (WMS), geometric features (WFS) and coverages (WCS)
on demand. MapServer was chosen as the leading server for
online map delivery because of its speed and reliability.
A GeoNetwork catalogue server that implements OGC CSW
protocol and ISO 19139 standards is used. The Java-based
software has turned out to be a powerful tool with a graphic
interface to manage metadata associated to the spatial datasets to
create different user profiles and to visualize map images for
published metadata. Moreover, it implements a powerful
distributed search and harvesting engine across different
catalogues implementing other protocols (OAI-MPH, etc). The
GeoNetwork server is running on a server container called
Apache Tomcat. This Java application server is connected to the
most popular open source web server. All metadata managed by
GeoNetwork are stored in a spatial-enabled database. Our
election was PostgreSQL with its spatial extension PostGIS.
On the client-side a user interface is developed that renders
map images and geometric features in any modern Internet
browser. All libraries support cross-browser requirements and
are written in Javascript implementing AJAX technology,
releasing server load: OpenLayers, ExtJS and GeoExt.
OpenLayers has been the most common open-source framework
to display maps from different WMS servers to create authentic
mash-ups. It contains a group of map controls to create
interactive maps, enhancing the user experience supporting a
great variety of OGC and Web 2.0 standards such as SVG,
XML, GML, GeoJSON, GeoRSS and OGC Filter, for instance.
ExtJS is a Javascript framework that allows users to create
desktop-like web applications with interesting and interactive
widgets.
The distinctive element developed for the P-SDI focused on
providing interoperable products and forecasting tools to coastal
and marine scientists is the P-SDI web-based Atlas. It is an
online tool that is fully integrated in the P-SDI geoportal and
combines interactive maps with text and images, organized in
different sections or topics. The Atlas is one of the three
components of the P-SDI (Map Viewer, Data catalogue and
Atlas) developed to support coastal management in the
framework of ICZM. The main focus for the development of the
Atlas was to engage stakeholders and scientists in coastal
management. The P-SDI Atlas consolidates essential data onto a
state of the art mapping and visualization platform that allows
end users to visualize, query, map, and analyse coastal data and
various purpose built products (Indicators factsheets, Integrated
Regional Assessments, Cumulative Impact Mapping and other
relevant interoperable products).
Structure and components of the MeI.
The MeI is more than a geoviewer
(www.medinageoportal.eu). It is an infrastructure that integrates
all the results developed by the partners of the MEDINA
Consortium. A geoviewer is at the front face and the public
gateway to the information of the SDI.The MeI is a compound
of services produced from Earth Observation, modelling and
other analysis and transformed into interoperable services
following OGC standards. The variety of thematic services and
the capabilities of the viewer make the MeI a reference for
scientist interested in topics related with monitoring marine
ecosystems in North Africa. The MeI focuses in acting as a
repository of spatial data for research centres and also as a tool
for dissemination as well as a window to a very valuable set of
data for the general public.
The Medina e-infrastructure is supported by an architecture
based on an Open Source geomatic stack, being its basic
components in the server side. There are a few components
(hardware and software) that are completely necessary for the
correct working of the Medina SDI, some belong to the server
side and others to the client side.
On the server side an operating system Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS
from the OVH nodes network is used. The WMS server is an
Open Source platform for publishing spatial data and interactive
mapping applications to the web. Originally developed in 1997
as part of the ForNet project by the University of Minnesota in
cooperation with NASA and the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources, MapServer is released under an MIT-style
license. MapServer is an Open Source geographic data rendering
engine written in the C language. Beyond browsing GIS data,
MapServer creates “geographic image maps”, that is, maps that
can direct users to content. Currently, MapServer is a project of
OSGeo, and is maintained by a growing number of developers
(nearing 20) from around the world. It is supported by a diverse
group of organizations that fund enhancements and
maintenance, and administered within OSGeo by the MapServer
Project Steering Committee made up of developers and other
contributors.
The CSW server, or GeoNetwork, has been developed to
connect spatial information communities and their data using a
modern architecture, which is at the same time powerful and low
cost, based on the principles of Free and Open Source Software
(FOSS) and International and Open Standards for services and
protocols (a.o. from ISO/TC211 and OGC). The software
provides an easy to use web interface to search geospatial data
across multiple catalogues, combine distributed map services in
the embedded map viewer, publish geospatial data using the
online metadata editing tools and optionally the embedded
GeoServer map server. Administrators have the option to
manage user and group accounts, configure the server through
web based and desktop utilities and schedule metadata
harvesting from other catalogues.
An OpenDAP server from the Open Source OpenDAP NPO
is combined with a Geographic database PostGIS which is a
Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting on coastal and marine areas
Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 75, 2016
960
spatial database extender for PostgreSQL object relational
database. It adds support for geographic objects allowing
location queries to be run in SQL. In MeI, a PostGIS database to
store vector data which is located within the server. A
supporting server-side programming for the browser front-end:
several PHP programs (with CodeIgniter framework) is using
PHP with a CodeIgniter framework.
On the client side (user interface) a custom Viewer developed
with JavaScript (with jQuery) based on Leaflet integrates a dual
panel, synchronized view, and an integrated catalog. In the
client side, the technologies implemented are HTML5, CSS3
and JavaScript with a few libraries like JQuery 1.9.0, jQuery-ui
1.10.3, Leaflet and KineticJS 4.7.4. All the technology is
accessible via the www.medinageoportal.eu with a custom
application developed to access all spatial information
(indicators and variables) as well as the relevant GEOSS
catalogues.
For the interaction with desktop GIS the MeI has been
adapted to the OGC standard, which means that can be accessed
from any GIS application like QGIS, GvSIG, etc. Within the
MeI, the server architecture is based on Linux, and the whole IT
infrastructure is located in a server system.
DISCUSSION
By placing the Atlas directly in the hands of regional coastal
and marine stakeholders via a powerful and simple to use
interoperable mapping tool, the P-SDI Atlas supports
collaborative decision making and robust regional and local
coastal management and planning (Malvárez et al., 2015). It acts
as a repository of relevant documents, in different formats,
accessible through the P-SDI. It improves the comprehension of
tools and spatial information loaded on the viewer, it will
support decision making process and contains predefined maps
of main findings for both basins, with the interpretation of the
results among other reports and suit of indicators.
Among other applications the P-SDI Atlas offers support to a
multi-scale coastal risk index for the Mediterranean, an
economic and social analysis of the uses of the coastal and
marine waters, an integrated regional assessment in support of
ICZM in the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins (Santoro et
al., 2014). In relation to forecasting utilities all mapping
products related to environmental and socio-economic indicators
generated by the PEGASO project can be available to scientists
and other stakeholders via the P-SDI Atlas including the
Mediterranean scenario experiences developed within the ICZM
platform where a cross-cutting approach between regional
foresight analysis and participatory prospective can be
integrated. Another significant development for further
exploitation is the cumulative impact maps, currently shown as
WMS, the first interoperable Land Use and Ecosystem
Accounting maps for the entire Mediterranean basin comparing
CORINE land cover land uses of 2000 and 2010 and mapped
indicators of the State of the Mediterranean marine and coastal
environment.
A key issue for the aperture of new communities to spatial
data (such as scientists not necessarily involved in mapping
science) is the efforts made in platforms such as MeI for the
integration of indicators and model results. A key process that
can be transferred to other initiatives is that model output are
transformed into interoperable services following OGC
standards as well as the INSPIRE EU Directive and the GEO
System of Systems principles. In the MeI fully interoperability
with the Global Common Infrastructure (GCI) and other systems
is assured. Users are able to access key data sources and models,
as well as to their associated metadata information. Metadata
formats have been developed conforming to EN ISO 19115 and
EN ISO 19119 for the Commission Regulation (EC) No
1205/2008 of 3 December 2008 implementing the INSPIRE
Directive (European Union, 2007). Moreover, to guarantee
applicability, close coordination with the GEOSS Architecture
Data Committee (GEOSS ADC) and Science & Technology
Committee (STC) ensures the common rules for the
development and registration of the MeI and its services into the
GCI. These are fully compatible with the GEOSS Infrastructure.
Purpose built forecasting environments based on web
applications are enabling users to develop new spatial
information by using, directly on the dedicated web services,
existing interoperable data (Van Bemmelen and Craglia, 2013).
These intelligent environments that link the appropriate
information to promote new intended output and mapping
products are technically achievable but far from standardize
practice in most research projects dealing with coastal and
marine science. As a tool for forecasting the immediate future
challenge for SDI is the adaptation as architectures for web and
cloud based services, including multidimensional interactive
visualisation, collaborative user-driven environments and
context-aware mapping environments.
CONCLUSIONS
A new paradigm has seen spatial data and information
providers adapt to the interoperable ways for future forecasting
based on web services. However, more demanding applications
are arising due to the new possibilities offered by
interoperability compliant data in coastal and marine modelling.
Significant efforts are being made to reach the new demands of
the scientific communities by offering specialized environments
for mapping (such as purpose built Atlases) and modelling using
interoperable input and output protocols. The two case studies
presented in this paper, the P-SDI and the MeI contribute in
providing prototype style mapping and viewing capacities but
further development and awareness is needed to reach a wider
scientific community. Online cloud-based modelling is
increasingly the research area focusing on facilitating the bridge
between data manipulation and powerful future forecasting
online tools.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors thank the PEGASO (supported by the European
Union within FP7- ENV.2009.2.2.1.4 Integrated Coastal Zone
Management. Contract n. 244170) and MEDINA (supported by
the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-
2013 under Grant Agreement n. 282977) consortia for the
spatial information shared.
Interoperability as supporting tool for Future Forecasting on coastal and marine areas
Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 75, 2016
961
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The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) adopted in 2008 aims to protect the marine environment through the holistic Ecosystem Approach (EA). The MSFD requires Member States to develop and implement cost-effective measures to achieve and/or maintain “Good Environmental Status” (GEnS). To this end, interested parties require a large amount of data and this data should be appropriately managed. This is particularly true for EA applications, where data can come from diverse sources, in diverse formats, and from several disciplines. Preliminary steps for supporting reliable multi-disciplinary analysis include data collection, data management, and the implementation of an interoperable sharing system. In an effort to implement this type of multidisciplinary analysis, a working group from the KnowSeas project (www.knowseas.com) created a Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Mediterranean Sea, designed to define and analyze the GEnS concept across various geographical scales. This article describes the implementation of this SDI, demonstrating how an interoperable system can provide strong support in implementing the MSFD under the EA, and how marine spatial planning can assist policymakers in the decision making process.
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