How is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) transforming fisheries data into dynamic tools for marine management? In summer 2017, I interned at the NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, and co-developed an Oracle database and interactive online maps that managers could use to instantaneously access and visualize data from Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports. Previously, the data had only been stored in PDFs that were hundreds of pages in length and tedious to navigate. Then, in summer 2019, I interned at the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in Honolulu, HI, through the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program. I focused again on enhancing visualization of fisheries data, this time by equipping staff without backgrounds in GIS to publish maps on the NOAA GeoPlatform. The NOAA GeoPlatform is an ArcGIS Online portal that serves as a centralized repository and viewing platform for internal and public-facing data. Because NOAA operates across six major science centers nationwide and in every U.S. state and territory, having a single website for the storage of geographic data is a groundbreaking way of facilitating scientific collaboration and environmental decision-making. Before my project, only a few researchers at PIFSC were comfortable with making online maps of their data; I automated the data upload process through designing custom Excel and GIS applications. Having engaged in improving data storage and visualization at both NOAA Headquarters and a science center, I believe that the NOAA GeoPlatform is the future of geographic data management at NOAA.
- Adele Birkenes, Undergraduate Student / Ernest F. Hollings Scholar, Vassar College / NOAA