Columbus, OH Ohio Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network (GLSGN) have completed a needs assessment for the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) to determine data needs of managers and other decision makers in the Great Lakes region. The two-year project focused on the specific data requirements of three user groups — fishery managers, public health officials, and those involved in Lake Management Plans (LaMP) or Areas of Concern (AOC) — as well as on collecting information about additional potential GLOS users and their needs.
“We hope GLOS personnel will gain insight from the results of the internet survey and the individual and focus group interviews we conducted”? says Frank Lichtkoppler, Extension Program Leader and the lead investigator. “We certainly have, and we look forward to putting some of the good ideas and critical needs identified in this report into action in our own work for the Sea Grant network.”?
Key findings of the assessment included a need for training in using data management and visualization tools available through GLOS, specifically through distance learning methods such as webinars. This is likely due to a limited amount of available funds and travel time. Managers are also less interested in mobile applications than the general public, possibly due to agency concerns about data security.
When asked about specific data needs, respondents from all interest groups expressed strong interest in more physical, chemical and biological data from the Great Lakes and nearshore waters as well as surrounding watersheds. In addition, a number of requests for more real-time data, faster access to regular monitoring data, and easier access to both current and historical data were recorded.
“Overall, we definitely reached the audiences we were seeking for this project”? says Lichtkoppler. “We also found that the results of the internet survey conducted by Minnesota Sea Grant, which wasn’t part of our original proposal, matched the results from the interviews and focus groups quite well, indicating that this much less labor-intensive survey method can still provide valuable information.”?
While the survey also identified a number of other potential user groups for GLOS data, ranging from drinking and wastewater managers to industrial and recreational water users, the researchers suggest a cautious approach to developing tools for new user groups. Given the limited resources currently available for this type of work, it might be difficult to adequately serve all potential new clientele, and to Cynthia Hagley from Minnesota Sea Grant, "The high response rate to the internet survey and detailed comments we received tell me that there is a large unmet need for more and better data among Great Lakes managers."
Sea Grant programs from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois-Indiana, Ohio, and New York participated in the study.
The Ohio Sea Grant program at Ohio State University is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.
Frank Lichtkoppler, Extension Program Leader, email@example.com.