The goal of the IDOD project was to provide the federal government, the scientific community and other users with an up-to-date tool for collecting, managing and analysing marine scientific data.The resulting “marine information system” is hosted by the Belgian Marine Data Centre (BMDC), a team within the Management Unit of the Mathematical Mode's of the North Sec (MUMM). The BMDC committed itself to keep the IDOD information system alive and evolving. A remote user interface is available online at http:/ /www.mumm.ac.be/ datacentre.
The project faced all the aspects of modern scientific data management. A major challenge was to establish a fruitful dialog with the data providers. This has been done through extensive discussions in the Users committee and during bilateral meetings. The topics that have then been clarified range from the principles (in order to write down a standard common “Rights and duties" agreement) to the very technical and scientific details, specific to each data set .
A substantial effort has been put on the definition of guidelines for ensuring the data quality throughout their way from the field to the data centre. This has resulted, for instance, in the development of a “On-board registration of samples" computer programme, in a check list of meta-information to document the data or in the definition of a “common layout" for reporting data sets to the data centre.On the technical side, the variety and complexity of the data to be stored and made available for further use lead us to elaborate a complex and robust data base scheme, after an in-depth conceptual analysis. The database itself is implemented using the ORACLE technology.In parallel, a set of dedicated analysis and visualisation tools has been developed. They help the users and the data managers to tackle the data in their space and time dimensions and also allow cross-analysis between different parameters.
The primary providers of data for the information system were the various teams participating in the (first) Programme for a sustainable development of the North Sea, financed by the Belgian Federal Office for scientific, technical and cultural affairs. These data are being complemented by data from other (earlier) scientific programmes and from governmental surveys.
The project has been performed by MUMM, in partnership with the SURFACES laboratory (University of Liege) and the University Centre of Statistics (University of Leuven).