IMS-GIS Data Centre

Data management of Darwin Initiative Plus data at the IMS-GIS data centre

In the South Atlantic region an Information Management System and GIS data centre (IMS-GIS data centre) has been operating since the end of 2013 thanks to an initial funding from the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) to the Falkland Islands Government and Saint Helena Government was facilitated by Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) as a project partner. The South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) has been taking the task to build, develop, implement and ultimately manage the IMS-GIS data centre in the Falklands and in the regional area of the South Atlantic (with the exception of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands whose data management falls under the responsibility of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)).

Three territories: Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and the Falkland Islands have been adopting the ISO19115 metadata form for collecting metadata and have organised a local server for storing data. The original ISO19115 has been further simplified to make it easy to use for individuals and organisations that are requested to fill it in. The metadata template created and used by the IMS-GIS data centre is available online at

Both Ascension Island and the Falklands have consolidated data management practices into data policies adopted locally. Other territories such as Saint Helena and South Georgia provide researchers interested in working in these territories with guidelines and research permit applications. For clarity, the IMS-GIS data centre pulled together all the information in this webpage, which researchers are strongly invited to look at:

From 2016 the introduction of standard metadata (ISO19115) and the submission to a data centre became necessary components of DPLUS projects. DPLUS projects are also now required to comply with territory research permits. The JNCC has received the mandate from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to run a data archive/repository targeting only the collection of metadata and data from DPLUS projects run in the UKOTs.

In order to avoid confusion between the role of the local data centres and the JNCC/DEFRA Darwin Plus data and metadata repository, the IMS-GIS data centre has thought it opportune to clarify its position and specify its role and responsibility in the management of data and metadata generated from a DPLUS project.

Below a simple data management schema for DPLUS PM’s operating in the Falkland Islands to ensure that the PM complies with the Data Management Policy adopted in the Falkland Islands and with the requirements of the Falkland Islands Research permits (see link above). For DPLUS PM’s working in the other South Atlantic territories it is highly recommended that they liaise with:

  • the Director of Conservation and Fisheries department (Ascension Island Government);
  • the Director of Environment and Fisheries (Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands);
  • the Senior GIS officer (Saint Helena Government).


WebGIS Projects

The IMS-GIS data centre has contributed to the development of a few webGIS projects which allow the visualisation of data that organisations and individual researchers made visible to the public. A general and simple guide for navigating the webGIS project is available here.

All the data in the webGIS projects have a metadata record in the online catalogue. Since it is not yet possible to download the data displayed on the interactive maps, all users interested in the data should consult the metadata record and email the data request form to either the data custodian or the data owner (as specified in the metadata record).

Users of the webGIS projects should consider the following points before starting consulting the maps and using them.

  • The webGIS project is a collection of datasets provided by various data sources. By clicking on the “i” icon, see figure below, the metadata with information on the data source is displayed. Please cite the name of the data sources followed by the year of update (see red boxes below).


  • Any reproduction of the content of the webGIS project, for instance snap shots of the online maps, should be acknowledged as stated in the webGIS project metadata. This is accessed by clicking on the icon “information” as showed below.


Below an example of correct acknowledgement

Figure 6 - Seabird Breeding Colonies 2010 –

Image copyright: Falkland Islands – Marine Spatial Planning webGIS project. Data source: Falklands Conservation (2015)

The currently available webGIS projects are:








The challenge for the IMS-GIS data centre is to generate and integrate 5 data systems in 5 different islands, which lie remotely in the South Atlantic Ocean from the Equator to Antarctica and all have very basic internet and general communication connection with the rest of the countries (world). 

The ambitious goal would be achieved through a thoughtful strategy based on collaboration with the local governments and other public/private organisations. An integrated information system will be reached by having the stakeholders working in synergy and on pulling together the skills and knowledge of local and external IT and data experts.

The islands are different realities not only from a geographical point of view but also in terms of needs and priorities as far as data management is concerned. Thus, the information system has to be flexible enough to cope with differences although it tries to implement standards and consistency in terms of data management and data security across the wide South Atlantic region.

The overall architecture of the IMS-GIS data centre. Hover the various parts of the figure and their meaning will be unveiled.

Each territory, with the exception of South Georgia, whose data are managed by the British Antarctic Survey and stored in Cambridge, will have a data server where data belonging to the island will be stored. The quantity of data stored by the server will vary according to islands and also will depend on how many datasets are given in custody of the data manager by the governmental departments, by researchers and NGOs working on the territories, by industries operating on the territories. Data about each territory may also be stored in databases and maintained by organisations which are external to the territory but related to them through working/research collaboration. The metadata will inform on the location of the data and on the name of the person to be contacted in order to retrieve the data.    

The server hosting the data of each territory will be under the full responsibility and management of the data manager and the IT support will be provided by the local government. Within each server data are going to be store using a standard folder structure that will be common for each of the SA UKOTs. The folder structure reflects the “topic category” field which is part of the metadata form. The decision was made as it simplify the search for data in the server.

Guide For Researchers Coming To The Territories

Each territory in the South Atlantic welcomes scientists and researchers from all over the world. Local administrations and governments take into high consideration the scientific investigation that can be conducted on the islands as it will provide invaluable evidence and support for making decisions on environmental, planning, conservation and general development issues.

Hence, scientists and researchers operate a fundamental role as they will allow the local communities to understand better factors and variables that underlie the environment and the socio-economic aspects of their islands. 

It is extremely important that the relationship between researchers and local communities thrives. Logistic and technical support is generally provided by the local governments and this is ensured for projects that contribute to the strategic objectives of the territory and where an arrangement with the local partners is made well in advance. Planning ahead is preferable and take into account time, availability and workload of local staff.

Due to the value of the data collected, it is necessary to retain them in the territories and make them available for internal re-uses. Therefore researchers are asked to leave metadata before they depart from the islands and send the data back to the islands once they have cleaned and tidied them up. The metadata form is available here

Each territory deals with research permits in a different way. Click on each territory to know more about the steps for obtaining a research permit. Photo credits: Katie Brigden (South Georgia) and iLaria Marengo.

Application Forms and Guidelines   Application Form Guidelines and Data policy


General Information Application Form and Instructions Guidelines and Data policy