Personal tools
You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2006 June 2006 Data Management

Data Management

Dr Richard Knight of the University of Western Cape gave a presentation on participatory GIS research during the Information Management and Products workshop, and on Eco-informatics during the Graduate Students Network workshop. (Picture © Mitzi du Plessis)
"The benefits to SAEON from geospatial technology is the provision of fundamental tools for data capture and analysis through to collaboration, publication and decision support." Gavin Fleming, MINTEK (Picture © Mitzi du Plessis)

Information Management as an integral part of the SAEON Summit

- Avinash Chunthapursat, Information Management Coordinator, SAEON

Although the main purpose of the SAEON Summit was to develop a core science plan for SAEON, the Summit presented an ideal platform to interrogate information management (IM) systems best suited to the execution of the science plan by capturing, storing and making environmental observation data available to all SAEON stakeholders.

"Contrary to expectations, more delegates attended the ICT workshop at the Summit than the core science workshop. This demonstrates a significant growth in ICT awareness in the research community, and wide-ranging support for the national information management network being developed by SAEON." - Johan Pauw, Head of SAEON

As part of the Summit, several IM-related activities were conducted, with the largest being the Information Management and Products workshop on the 28 March 2006.

During the plenary session, Gavin Fleming of MINTEK presented on "Geospatial Technologies and Geo-information Science for Persistent Environmental Monitoring". He described the benefits to SAEON from geospatial technology as providing fundamental tools for data capture and analysis through to collaboration, publication and decision support.

Gavin's presentation gave insight into spatial science in a SAEON context. His recommendations for SAEON included adhering to standards, interoperability, good facilitation and non-exclusivity.

Laurie Barwell of the Natural Resources and the Environment group at the CSIR gave a talk during the plenary session on "A Proposed Service Oriented Architecture for SAEON". He provided a brief history of data networking from SA-ISIS (South African Integrated Spatial Information System) to the current CoSAMP (Collaborative Spatial Analysis and Modelling Platform) system which SAEON is in the process of implementing.

Laurie proposed that a service-oriented architecture be designed for SAEON that is fully open-source and open-standards compliant with interoperability addressed by adherence to industry standards, and with Open GIS Consortium specifications as core to the spatial information.

GeoPortal demonstration

Hardy Jonck and Magnus van Rensburg from AgileWorks, the software developers for CoGIS and CoSAMP, conducted a live demonstration of the CoSAMP geoportal during the poster session. This demonstration offered Summit delegates a hands-on opportunity to work with spatial data on the portal.

Information Management and Products workshop

The purpose of the Information Management and Products workshop was to peer-review existing IM technology that SAEON is implementing, and to obtain input from delegates for future developments such as the implementation of ecological metadata language (EML). Chaired by Avinash Chunthapursat and co-facilitated by Judith Kruger (SANParks) and Dr Richard Knight (University of the Western Cape), the workshop consisted of the following presentations:

  • Overview of SAEON Information Management: Avinash Chuntharpursat (SAEON)
  • Developing SAEON's inventory on existing long-term environmental datasets: Dr Silvia Mercenero (SAEON, UCT)
  • Spatial Data Standards: Anthony Cooper (CSIR)
  • Ecological Metadata Language: Judith Kruger (SANParks)
  • Sensorweb: Andrew Terhorst (CSIR)
  • Participatory GIS Research: Dr Richard Knight (UWC)

Laurie Barwell gave a more detailed presentation on CoSAMP during the IM Workshop, explaining the dimensions of collaboration such as re-use, value addition and interoperability in the context of decision making. He used screenshots to demonstrate CoSAMP in operation. In addition, he demonstrated the use of hexframes as a standard for integrating geospatial data from different sources and scales. Laurie concluded his presentation with a long-term goal: that of networking Africa's data as part of the NEPAD initiative.

Valuable input was received on the implementation of EML into CoSAMP, and no major criticisms of the CoSAMP geoportal were raised. It emerged that the developing SAEON information management system (IMS) was standards compliant in terms of open GIS standards. This IMS also has the potential to expand to include other systems such as the emerging Sensorweb.

With 61 participants, the IM workshop was not only the largest workshop of the Summit, indicating an unexpectedly big interest in SAEON's emerging technology, but was also rated as a huge success by all participants.

Graduate Students Network workshop

Avinash Chuntharpursat gave a presentation on the basic principles and technology of the SAEON IMS, followed by a presentation by Richard Knight of UWC on Eco-informatics. The joint presentation was aimed at showing the students the practical and theoretical sides of Eco-informatics to encourage more young people to enter this dynamic field of study.


For Information Management, the SAEON Summit was a huge success in terms of networking, brainstorming, review and technology. It provided SAEON stakeholders with a much larger picture of SAEON than the individual components, and generated unprecedented multidisciplinary co-operation in addressing South Africa's long-term environmental concerns.

Best of all: participation continues ...

Document Actions