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Our Work

Data Integration for the Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick: From Raw Data to an Interactive Online Atlas

In 2018, COINAtlantic received funding as part of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Atlantic Ecosystems Initiative (AEI) program to undertake a two-year data integration project for the Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick.

 

The goal of this project was to increase discovery, access, and re-use of relevant data to support actions undertaken to improve the health, productivity and long-term sustainability of the Saint John Harbour in collaboration researchers from University of New Brunswick, McMaster University and staff at the non-profit organization, ACAP Saint John. 

The project consisted of three major components:

 

  1. Data rescue - COINAtlantic identified data that only existed in hard copy and digitized the data
     

  2. Field work - data was collected in 2018 by project partners (microplastics, water quality, sediment contamination and infaunal invertebrates
     

  3. All data (rescued and field) were standardized by COINAtlantic and made publicly available via online data repositories and an integrated, online interactive atlas
     

  4. An Executive Summary of Microplastics Research in the Saint John Harbour (EN/FR)

Partner Organizations

 

University of New Brunswick Saint John

Krista Beardy, MSc. candidate - responsible for the collection of subtidal and intertidal sediment samples and undertaking analysis for microplastics; contributed her protocol for microplastic analysis. 

 

Dr. Heather Hunt, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences - responsible for conducting sampling and analysis of sediment samples for infaunal invertebrates. Also, Krista’s academic supervisor for the microplastics work.  

 

ACAP Saint John

 

Bethany Reinhart and Graeme Stewart-Robertson and ACAP staff were responsible for the collection of inner and outer harbour water quality samples and conducting surface water trawl sampling and analysis for microplastics.

McMaster University 

 

Dr. Karen Kidd and Stephen Jarislowsky, Chair in Environment, was a collaborator with Dr. Hunt on the long-term invertebrate and sediment contaminant monitoring. Karen analyzed the sediments for contaminants.

Mary Kennedy

 

Mary Kennedy was responsible for leading the data rescue initiative, coordinating the workflow of the summer student, and providing ongoing advice on appropriate standards, vocabularies, and repositories.


The report provides guidance to those wishing to undertake data rescue and standardization projects and also provides best practices for creating web maps that integrate multiple datasets, including cartographic stylization considerations.

Read the full report here including tips on data rescue, data cleaning, and data standardization. 

COINAtlantic's Environmental Data Map for the Saint John Harbour 

COINAtlantic undertook data rescue work on a historical dataset and make it publicly available under the FAIR data guiding principles, along with other data collected in the Saint John Harbour, NB in 2018.

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COINAtlantic's Environmental Data Map for the Saint John Harbour 

Lessons Learned


After a two-year immersion in this data integration project a number of ‘lessons learned’ can be shared by COINAtlantic.

 

One of the major takeaways is that the process of standardizing data in order to make them compliant with the requirements of data repositories is a technical and time consuming process and requires considerable expertise; ideally, researchers should be provided with the training necessary to support them in managing their own data and encouraged by funding agencies to make their data publicly available on open access repositories.

 

Additionally, the interactive, online map that COINAtlantic produced to visualize the integrated data sets was well received by partner organizations. Maps are powerful tools to bring disparate data sets together and support integrated research and management decisions; consideration should be given to building on the atlas.

 

There is still much need for the development of strong data management practices as part of the AEI program and other programs active in the harbour. Strong data management practices, including commitments to making data accessible and reusable through open access data repositories, are necessary to support informed and integrated management of the Saint John Harbour.

 

COINAtlantic is well positioned to continue to work with established and new partners in the Saint John Harbour and elsewhere in Atlantic Canada to support the data management practices and exchange needed to improve our understanding of how human activities impact marine ecosystems over time and take action to restore and protect ecosystem health while maintaining sustainable economies.

Download COINAtlantic's instructions on how to create your own Googly My Maps.

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