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GIS Birds of a Feather Sessions at Environmental Information Management Meeting

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Fall 2011

Theresa Valentine (AND)

There were two GIS related Birds of a Feather sessions held at the 2011 Environmental Information Management (EIM) meeting. These sessions were facilitated by members of the LTER GIS Working Group.

Seventeen people attended the session on Geospatial Data Management for Ecological Research Organizations. Outcomes of the session were to develop a Wiki to share information and to develop methods to export and serve spatial data without having to store static files. There was quite a bit of interest in Open Source GIS solutions. The LTER GIS Working Group agreed to set up the Wiki, and invite participants.

The group started by identifying challenges and opportunities that information managers encounter with increase in the demand and volume of geospatial data and with integrating these data with research data collected as part of field studies. Several challenges were identified including providing access and analysis tools for large datasets, visualization tools, dealing with the exponential growth of data, capacity and organization, and getting researchers to think spatially.

The group shared their experiences with spatial data management, and folks were looking for automated methods for converting data from different projections and formats. The sense was that people need some tools to make the export of data automated to avoid storing data in multiple formats.

The Internet Mapping Session discussed software solutions, ways to meet the expectations and needs of clients, metadata and data portals, performance tuning, geo-tagging other data, and citations for applications. Outcomes include building a Wiki to share links to applications, tools, and other information. Over 20 people attended the session.

There were several paths that individuals chose to implement their map services, including google products, open layers, ArcIMS, ArcServer, MapServer, and GeoServer. People tended to pick the platform that worked best for them, based on budgets, staff, expertise, and the requirements of specific applications. Many participants were working within a Drupal framework to build their applications.

There was a lively discussion on how developers measure what the users want. Ideas were feedback from users (formal and informal), developing pilots and budgeting for re-development to change according to needs, and having a feedback button on the application.

More detailed notes on the two sessions can be found here: