Facilitating Public Access to Government Environmental Monitoring Data: The Living Everglades Web Site
United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development
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This handbook was developed to document The Living Everglades web site development process and to share information with other communities looking to establish a similar information network on ecological restoration efforts. The manual explains, in a step-by-step process, how the SFWMD created its web site, including choosing particular data features, developing the architecture to support the site (with a focus on providing map-based access to time-series data and documents), and soliciting input from stakeholders to create a user-friendly web site. With this information, we hope that communities can take aspects of the project and customize it to meet their own local needs. The handbook is designed primarily for agencies that already collect environmental data and want to make these data more accessible to other users, such as researchers or the community at large. These agencies will find all chapters of the handbook relevant, but should be aware that Chapters 4 and 5 (and some of the appendices), which delve into the web site development process, might be most suited to computer programmers, software consultants, and other Information Technology (IT) specialists. This handbook is organized as follows: Chapter, The Everglades Restoration Effort, provides background on the stresses on the Florida Everglades, the role of the SFWMD in preserving and restoring the ecosystem, the environmental data the agency collects and monitors, and the database used to store these data; Chapter 3, Overview of The Living Everglades Web Site, explains the organization, contents, and uses of The Living Everglades web site; Chapter 4, Creating a Similar Web Site, discusses the basic steps in setting up a similar web site, including establishing the key audiences and purpose, conducting a data inventory, choosing a data access/delivery system, ensuring ease of use and management, and determining resource requirements; Chapter 5, Behind the Web Site: The Software Application Design, provides a behind-the-scenes look into the architecture and programming of the three-tiered web site; Chapter 6, Working With Stakeholders and Partners, discusses how the SFWMD effectively worked with partners and stakeholders to develop a user-friendly web site, train users, and promote the site.
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