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Online source for coastal and marine data launched with joint effort from two universities

2 October 2006: The University of Ulster, UK and University College Cork, Ireland have teamed up to launch a new online resource containing every data about the coastline of Ireland. Access to a wealth of information on the marine and coastal environment, of interest to everyone from tourists to coastal managers, is now available in the Marine Irish Digital Atlas (MIDA). MIDA hosts over 115 maps, displaying the locations of features such as ship wrecks, marinas, ports and conservation areas using state-of-the-art open source software. The atlas can be accessed online at https://mida.ucc.ie

The interactive atlas also contains an information resource, MIDA InfoPort, which provides an insight to topics such as water-based tourism, natural coastal features, special habitats and a range of species, including seals, whales and dolphins.

Developed over four years by the University of Ulster’s Coastal and Marine Resources Centre (CMRC) and supported by the Republic’s Higher Education Authority (HEA), MIDA has attracted researchers from across Europe and the United States to work on the project.

A unique feature of MIDA is the all-island nature of the resource. Collaboration between University College Cork and University of Ulster has ensured that matching datasets were acquired for the coastline of Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Dr Derek Jackson, MIDA Project Leader at the University of Ulster, said: “The MIDA project provides a one-stop shop for coastal and marine data that will enhance integrated research, resource management and public knowledge.

“The launch of MIDA places Ireland in the unique position of being one of a limited number of countries with access to an integrated marine data and information resource at the national level. Other national or state level atlases are available in Australia, Belgium and Oregon, USA.”

The MIDA launch coincides with a trans-atlantic workshop involving marine scientists from the US, Belgium, the UK, Canada and Ireland as well as the European Environment Agency.

These scientists are working to identify the future challenges for managing coastal data and information, including the next generation of supporting Geographical Information System (GIS) technologies. Their aim is to produce guidelines for other countries with an interest in developing their own coastal atlases.

Valerie Cummins, MIDA Co-ordinator and CMRC Manager, said: “MIDA has been identified as a strategic flagship project, and as such, it will continue to be maintained and enhanced to ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource. It is envisaged that future development will focus on the addition of more data layers, and on producing new tools for specific users such as secondary schools and marine eco-tourism operators.”