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South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)

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South Florida Information Access Website

Poster presented December 2000, at the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference

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the SOFIA website home page
SOFIA website,
South Florida is one of several study areas within the United States Geological Survey's Place-Based Science Program. This program was established to provide scientific assistance to resource managers and scientists, who require an improved scientific information base to resolve or avert complex resource conflicts or environmental problems at specific ecosystem sites. Through multiyear efforts in each study area, USGS intensifies its provision of scientific information tailored to specific management needs. The information is designed to have a direct, significant, and immediate impact on management and policy decisions.

The South Florida Information Access website (SOFIA) was created as a 'one-stop-shopping' access point for research in south Florida. The site was designed around the projects within the south Florida program. Each project on the SOFIA site addresses a specific problem or issue in south Florida. Every project in the program is online at this site, complete with project publications, abstracts of conference presentations, contact information, and links to online project data, stored on the associated data exchange pages and on the database website. But the site is not merely a centralized warehouse of material for the research community.

Currently, the SOFIA site receives over 400 visitors per day, a mixture of government, academic, and general public users. The SOFIA site is designed to serve each visitor, providing them with direct access to the information they are looking for. The navigation for the SOFIA site was developed with that idea in mind. Information available on the SOFIA site is categorized into five sections:

    example of SOFIA project page
    A project page on the SOFIA site.
  • The first section allows the visitor to search over 1300 pages on the SOFIA site. In addition, we have provided a site map where the user can view the major portions of our site at a glance. We also have provided a "Help" section which walks a visitor through the website.
  • The next category in the navigation is devoted to the over 80 projects on the website. A user can look for a specific project by title, scientist, region, or scientific topic.
  • The third section, "Products", includes "publications", which has links to all of the on-line publications (circulars, fact sheets, open file reports, etc.) available on SOFIA; "results", which contains information about meetings and conferences that SOFIA personnel have participated in; and "synthesis", which lists all of the SOFIA synthesis projects being investigated in south Florida.
  • The fourth section, "Information", is a list of general information related to the SOFIA program. This includes a personnel listing of the main contacts for each portion of the SOFIA program, in addition to links for each scientist's personnel page. This information section also includes a general overview of our program, in addition to information about the ongoing work we do with local schools.
  • The final section in our navigation focuses on the data that the SOFIA program produces. There are three locations where you can access data: our database, which provides a web-based interface that allows direct queries and retrieval of data; the data exchange site, which facilitates the rapid exchange of raw data sets; and metadata, literally "data about data".

example of SOFIA help page
The SOFIA help page.
The SOFIA website is designed to be accessible to all visitors and usable by anyone. We provide contextual navigation at the top of every page, which shows the user exactly where they are within the site. This not only clues the visitor in to where they are (so they don’t feel lost), but it also allows them to move up through as many levels within that section as they would like. Each individual project page contains the same set of links - proposals, abstracts, data, metadata, publications, biographies, and related links - which gives the visitor access to each section of that project. The visitor can immediately see what information is available for that specific project. We also provide contacts for various parts of the SOFIA program. Should a visitor have a question or comment about any aspect of the site, this page provides direct access to the right person.

examples of SOFIA publications
Several publications are available on the SOFIA site. Shown: OFR 00-347, "1890 and 1990 Bathymetry of Florida Bay"; OFR-449, "USGS Program on the South Florida Ecosystem: 2000 Proceedings"; and Circular 1134, "South Florida Environment, A Region Under Stress".

In addition to adding new information daily to the website, there are several special sections on the SOFIA website. One of these is an interactive tour of south Florida. This tour allows visitors around the world to not only experience the beauty of south Florida, but also to see the work the USGS is doing in the region. We also host the website for the South Florida Restoration Science Forum, which was held in May of 1999. The website contains over 400 pages, including on-line versions of the posters that were presented at the Forum.

main page of the SOFIA South Florida Restoration Science Forum main page of the SOFIA Virtual Tour and example of IPIX image
Above: South Florida Restoration Science Forum; Right: South Florida Virtual Tour.

We also have added educational materials to the site. There is a "Kid's Page", which is a children's version of the virtual tour. Children can learn early on how important it is to save our ecosystems. In addition, we have started working with local schools, such as Forest Hill HS, to involve them with projects in the South Florida Ecosystem Program.

For more information about the SOFIA site, please contact:
SOFIA Website:
Heather Henkel
SOFIA Metadata:
Jo Anne Stapleton
SOFIA Database:
Roy Sonenshein

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:07 PM (KP)