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Large amounts of data are regularly collected by various organizations carrying out their monitoring or research activities on the St. Lawrence ecosystem in response to a common need to better understand, model or predict changes that occur in the environment. However, access to such a wealth of information is often inefficient due to the lack of a common framework that ensures interconnections between organisations, data registries, systems and user interfaces, and the use of recognized standards. The vision behind the St. Lawrence Global Observatory (SLGO) initiative launched in 2005 is to provide efficient Web access to timely and accurate data and information from a network of federal, provincial, academic and community organizations for the sustainable management of the St. Lawrence ecosystem. The synergy created by clustering the means and expertise of the member organizations results in optimizing information dissemination, reducing duplicated efforts and identifying data gaps. It also helps support planning and decision making processes in areas such as public safety, climate change, resource management and conservation. This multidisciplinary and innovative approach is based on Web service development in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and on access to distributed data assets including a broad range of real-time and archived data as well as modelling, forecasting and operational services. Pilot and demonstration projects lead by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have allowed a team of programmers and scientists to develop the concept of Web Data Services (WDS), to implement several WDS and to successfully deploy Web-based client applications that exploit them.©2008 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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