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Released September 26, 2003

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OCEAN SPRINGS - Researchers at The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Geospatial Center have teamed up with their Louisiana colleagues to build a "digital coast" through the support of a $500,000 award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"We are going to collect, purchase and share data to develop a coastal digital data repository to be used by Southern Miss and University of New Orleans researchers," said Ed Pinero, associate director of outreach for the university's geospatial center and principal investigator on the digital coast project.

"The key is that this project is going to provide a central location of coastal-specific data that can be used by the university researchers, resource managers and economic development organizations to track trends taking place on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Pinero said.

Pinero's team will be formatting and storing digital satellite imagery, aerial photography and historical data. Pinero said it is no small task to put years of data into the format of geographical information systems (GIS) that will make it more accessible for current studies and consistent with formats required by technologies used at Southern Miss.

"One example is fisheries data from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory," he said. "Those data are so all-encompassing. There are 30-years of research data. Some is hand-written, some in old databases. Once we have digitized that data, instead of being on paper, the new format will give the university the capacity for long-term storage of large historical data sets."

The electronic coast will support such investigations as identification and analysis of change in fisheries habitat and measurement of nonpoint source pollution. The ability to mine the data, combined with Southern Miss researchers' related scientific investigations, will strengthen planning related to potential coastal hazards, environmental impacts, homeland security, economic development and other coastal issues.

Pinero said the project's GIS analyst has already started digitizing historical data. The team is also assessing needs of researchers and identifying inventories of coastal data.

The geospatial center is headquartered at the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs.



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April 20, 2004 4:48 PM