In support of the goals identified by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Indicator and Information Strategy Team, the project focused on improving geospatial data discovery, evaluation, and access to bolster and support federal decision support processes across the region. According to Andriole, 1989, the decision support process consists of three phases of "decision making: information gathering, options design and choice." This project provided the toolkits (options design), "layfriendly" documentation, and outreach necessary to demonstrate how geospatial resources can be used in this regard (choice) for the Great Lakes region.
Through this project the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) created a web-based Spatial Decision Support System utilizing free and open source software and Open Standards to facilitate comprehensive baseline tracking and analysis of wetlands change over time. Specifically, this system does the following:
1. The system is designed to integrate all available wetlands data for the Great Lakes drainage basin, using national, state, and provincial sources. These data are currently inconsistent in scale, resolution, accuracy, temporality, and classification, which make baseline comparison amongst different wetlands datasets challenging. The aggregation and normalization of this information across time and space will better support trend assessments and restoration progress reporting.
2. The system integrates major land cover datasets collected under NOAA’s Coastal Change Assessment Program (C-CAP), wetlands datasets from the USF&WS National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) and classified hydric soils mapped under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Survey Geographic Database (SURGGO), allowing for quick comparisons of major classification factors not readily available in the past for use in assessing changes in wetlands extent over time.
3. The system integrates data from the USACE Great Lakes Habitat Initiative (GLHI) database and feeds similar applications. The GLHI project includes an inventory of site-specific actions to protect and restore wetlands and aquatic habitat across the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes region. By leveraging this database, efforts to identify and account for areas of wetlands change (i.e. restoration gains) can be better understood and managed throughout the region.
4. The system is designed to provide for a suite of user-friendly query and analysis tools to help users discover and analyze aggregated wetlands datasets. These tools, although not fully functional at the time of this report, will facilitate comprehensive, inter-agency tracking, reporting, and analysis within the Great Lakes region.
5. The system is designed to provide downloading capabilities through a variety of file formats and as OGC Web services. Although incomplete at present, this capability is expected to maximize the accessibility and extensibility of otherwise unconnected wetlands data.