BODC has earned an international reputation for its expertise in the management of marine data. To maintain this reputation we need to ensure that our long-term IT strategy will support our own stringent data processing and distribution procedures.
Enhancing our web services
To improve our data distribution capabilities we are committed to delivery of data via our web site. Our current web site was launched in 2005. It was designed to meet the needs of our customers with a focus on easy navigation and access to data.
The web site provides us with the framework to further improve our web services. Although some of our data holdings (such as UK tide gauge data, historic bottom pressure recorder and UK Argo floats) can be downloaded directly, a percentage is only accessible either by online request (after searching our online inventories) or by manual request. Our objective is to make all data directly downloadable via the web to authorised users.
We are also working towards the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. We will continue to focus on the needs of our customers who include
- Marine project participants — such as scientists for whom we collate, quality control, archive and distribute data.
- Teachers and researchers — including universities and schools who require marine data for their research.
- The public — who are interested in the science of the seas and oceans.
- Commercial organisations and industry — who can use the data under licence for their own activities.
Rebuilding our internal data processing systems
In 2001 BODC embarked on a major rebuilding exercise in respect of our data processing systems and visualisation, replacing Fortran and C++ code with MATLAB and Java.
Alongside this we rationalised our data storage formats to the single format of QXF. QXF is a BODC defined subset of netCDF. NetCDF is an internationally recognised platform independent exchange format used widely in research environments.
Both our software libraries and our data holdings are almost entirely platform independent. This eliminates many operating system migration issues and helps with data distribution to our customers.
We are hosted by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Liverpool and Southampton and our IT infrastructure (servers and networks) are maintained by their local IT support group. In turn, they are supported by NERC's Information Systems and Technology (IST) group who provide specialised expertise, such as Oracle support. We work closely with these groups to maintain and develop the IT infrastructure we depend on.