In the last couple of years, the IMS-GIS data centre has been implementing the data management architecture to test its performances and identify pitfalls. In terms of services, the data centre has been giving more emphasis to the development of spatial databases and data visualisation tools, precisely webGIS services, in support of projects run by SAERI, the Falkland Islands Government, Falklands Conservation and other South Atlantic and Caribbean UKOTs. Improving the performance of the data centre in terms of metadata and data quality and webGIS products is a long term target, nevertheless there are new challenges on the horizon which involve the development of more sophisticated and highly performant data services and remote sensing applications.
With the current cost and technological limitations, developing a centre of excellence for geospatial science, data management and analytics without an external support is very challenging and likely unachievable, hence the proposal to join forces with external institutions that can work with SAERI to strengthen and enhance the data centre. The partner institution(s) will benefit from the collaboration as it allows working in unique places and on exciting subjects that SAERI is either leading or heavily engaged. The opportunity is to to carry out scientific research and be the first to explain processes and phenomena occurring in the regional marine and terrestrial environments which are still unexplored and little understood.
The University of Dundee was identified as potential partner, due to links with the IMS-GIS data manager, who did a Master in Remote Sensing back in 2005, and the involvement of the Centre of Remote Environment in a large project called Discovery 100 which is aiming at bringing cutting-edge science in South Georgia. After a short visit in May 2017, a workshop was held in September 2017 during which representatives of the University of Dundee were invited to hear about the vision, aims and long-term objectives of the IMS-GIS data centre and contribute with their own ideas and suggestions.
The positive outcomes from the workshop paved the way to a six month secondment, which was followed by an extension of further six months. The main focus of the secondment was on the use of innovative and modern technologies (not affordable by the small and remote territories) to improve some of the existent data services (e.g. turn the metadata catalogue into a proper data portal) and to develop new efficient, usable and manageable tools for data management (e.g. an image catalogue for environmental scientists). The strategy behind enhancing the offer of data services was to make the IMS-GIS data centre more competitive and in a stronger position when looking at funding opportunities to sustain the working collaboration between SAERI and University of Dundee in the long-term.
The first 6 months of the secondment concluded with a Road map and strategy for the IMS-GIS data centre, whereas the second 6 months ended with a technical report summarising the achievements throughout the period. It is worth highlighting that during the year in Dundee the contract with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee for the delivery of a data portal and webGIS tool for the Government of Montserrat played a key role.