The IMS-GIS data centre was funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office in 2013 with an initial grant of £185,000 over a two year period. The funding was oversight by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), while the management of the project was given to SAERI. The Falkland Islands and Saint Helena governments benefited from the funding and two data managers and GIS specialists posts were created on both islands. A final report of the two year funded project is available here.
Starting from the UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic region, the vision of the IMS-GIS data centre is to develop and implement tools and services for a sustainable and integrated data/information management system, which includes data documentation, discovery, access, visualisation and analysis.
Based on open source software, tools and data services are designed to be easily transferable across other territories and small islands. External collaborations and partnerships, such as those with NaturalGIS and the University of Dundee, are helping the IMS-GIS data centre to grow and make the data services available to a much wider audience.
The IMS-GIS data centre works locally and empowers people living in the territories by promoting training courses to enhance their skills and understanding about data management, spatial data and GIS and Earth Observation techniques.
PEOPLE, DATA and SYSTEMS have been at the forefront of the data centre strategy. As such, the success of the IMS-GIS data centre will continue to depend equally on these three interlinked components.
Raising awareness about how to analyse spatial data and how to manage spatial databases are priorities for the success of the IMS-GIS data centre. Time is invested in training local people to be familiar with best practice of data management and the concept of why “spatial” makes data “special”. A short description of best practice rules is provided to explain people how standards and consistency in data collection and documentation facilitate the re-use of the data.
Another goal of the training courses is to encourage the organisation of local GIS users groups, where project ideas, applications, solutions and results can circulate and be publicised to improve and disseminate the use of GIS and other spatial techniques, such as Remote Sensing, as tools for spatial planning and decision making processes.
The philosophy of the data centre is to use free and open source software in order to allow full accessibility to mapping, analysing and visualising data. The intention of this approach is to learn and familiarise with the use of GIS and Earth Observation techniques. Another reason for promoting open source software is to be free from the limitations and costs associated to commercial licences. Free software, such as QGIS, postgreSQL, postGIS, Limap, Mapserver allow everyone to have access to tools and services, with a positive impact on knowledge exchange, data sharing, interoperability and capacity building.