Session C - 08:45-12:45, Friday 1 September 2000
The availability of data for marine research: Data, data everywhere and not a byte to spare.
The session covered a number of topics of interest regarding access to and the use of data for marine research. The session began with a number of presentations reviewing projects which are providing (or will provide) an interface via the Internet to data and databases of interest to the marine community. Through the projects described, (Eumarsin, Eurocore, Pangaea, Coastbase and Sea-Search), the "data user" has (or will have) excellent facilities to access marine information held at many sites throughout Europe.
However, whilst the Internet is acting as a driver for this sort of project, the question of actual access to data, the quality of the data found and the data standard used once the "data user" accesses the "data providers" site still remain. "Data providers" must improve the quantity and quality of data make available, otherwise the frustrations of the "data-user" will only increase now that user friendly access tools exist.
Whilst data management is becoming more and more the responsibility of the "professionals" and not the scientists, everyone involved must keep their eyes open to the needs of the "data-user" and try to serve these needs properly. "Data-users" should recognise that they also have a responsibility to feedback information to "data-providers".
Questions were raised about how these system would be funded in the future. In general it was felt that if a particular system was successful and enjoyed large "end-user" support then pressure could be brought on authorities to fund such systems in the future.
Turning to data standards, it was recognised that a universal standard for marine data is desirable as in the information age data standards now have a vital importance. Looking at what can be done, one speaker proposed the following 4 points:
In the final part of the session access to the use of real time data was considered. To date it has generally been accepted that oceanographic data should be made freely available and that "data-users" should have unrestricted access to such data. However, especially in Europe, National Met. Services (NMR) are required to generate a commercial return from the data they hold. This commercial requirement was taken into account when drafting WMO resolution 40 and more recently the EuroGOOS Data Policy.