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Developing the Future of Libraries: Phase I Sub-Grant Projects


ArcticSensorWeb: A Research Platform for Real-Time Dissemination of Arctic Data


  • Brent Else, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts/Department of Geography,
  • Maribeth Murray, Professor and Executive Director, Faculty of Arts/Department of Anthropology and Archaeology and Arctic Institute of North America
  • Steve Liang, Associate Professor, Schulich School of Engineering/Department of Geomatics Engineering
  • Shawn Marshall, Professor, Faculty of Arts/Department of Geography
  • Shannon Vossepoel, Manager, Research Data & Information Services, Arctic Institute of North America
  • James Badger, Research Associate, GeoSensorWeb Lab Schulich School of Engineering/Department of Geomatics Engineering


The traditional data collection and dissemination cycle for environmental scientists typically involves travelling to the field to make observations, returning to the University to analyze the data, and then publishing results in peer-reviewed journals. This model has been criticized for its inaccessibility to the general public, and when applied in indigenous lands it has even been decried as a form of modern colonialism. One of the keys to breaking this cycle is publishing data in near-real time, on user-friendly, accessible research platforms. As an illustration, imagine a team of researchers who measure a storm as it passes by a weather station they installed near an Inuit community. The researchers may be able to learn about the physics of that storm by studying it after the fact, but the community would be better able to plan for and respond to the impacts of the storm if they had access to the observations in real time.

Unfortunately, there are significant challenges inherent in publishing scientific data with Northern communities as a target audience. Internet bandwidth in Northern communities is significantly slower and more costly than in the South, and there are cultural differences and disparities in access to education that should be considered. This project will take a multidisciplinary approach to improving Northern community access to local environmental data while simultaneously making that data publicly available. This access will be developed using a research platform that integrates, visualizes, and  publishes data in real time on a userfriendly web interface.