Information Management

To distinguish data from information the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) defines data as observable, raw values that result from research or monitoring activities; these values can be numerical (ex. temperature or salinity measurements) or nominal (ex. species lists for a particular region). Information is commonly used to mean data that have already been processed and/or interpreted results. In that sense, metadata, i.e. data about data (ex. by whom, at what time, where and how the results were collected) can be considered a special kind of information.

The users of Marine Information, hosted by IODE, include research scientists, policy makers, students at all levels, educators, industry, and businesses. Marine Information Management Centers interact with Marine Data managers to deliver information products, ex. Data that has been processed and interpreted. The data may be repackaged in the form of electronic citation databases, internet bibliographies, regional repositories of stored and accessible scientific research, online catalogs of specialized collections, or digitized collections of difficult to find scientific studies. IODE establishes national and international standards to disseminate this information, and forms groups of networked individuals and professional societies to collaborate on new products, on training courses and technology for the delivery of marine and atmospheric information.

Information Accessibility

Open knowledge is defined by the Open Knowledge Foundation as any content, information or data that people are free to use, re-use and redistribute — without any legal, technological or social restriction. The main principles are:

  • Free and open access to the material
  • Freedom to redistribute the material
  • Freedom to reuse the material
  • No restriction of the above based on who someone is (e.g. their nationality) or their field of endeavour (e.g. commercial or non-commercial)


Open knowledge has the potential to deliver far-reaching societal benefits which include the following:

  • Better governance: openness improves governance through increased transparency and engagement.
  • Better culture: openness means greater access, sharing and participation in relation to cultural material and activities.
  • Better research: for research to function effectively, and for society to reap the full benefits from research activities, research outputs should be open.
  • Better economy: openness permits easier and more rapid reuse of material and open data and content are the key raw ingredients for the development of new innovative tools and services.


The Government of Canada has established the following operating principles for based on the Sunlight Foundations Ten Principles for Opening up Government Information:

  1. Completeness: complete datasets, raw information, and metadata are made available
  2. Primacy: datasets are the primary source data
  3. Timeliness: release of datasets as quickly as possible
  4. Ease of physical and electronic access: readily accessible information
  5. Machine readability: datasets stored in widely used file formats
  6. Non-discrimination: any person able to access the data at any time, without identity or justification
  7. Use of commonly owned standards: datasets in freely available file formats
  8. Licencing: datasets are released under the Open Government Licence - Canada agreement
  9. Permanence: information is to remain online, with appropriate version tracking and archiving
  10. Usage costs: data is released free of charge on the Open Government site

Guiding Principles of the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) are as follows:

  1. Marine Information is a common resource, indispensable for understanding the ocean and for the wise exploitation and management of its resources.
  2. Marine Information is a prerequisite to the development of national and regional infrastructures, and contributes to the transfer of knowledge and technology between developing and developed countries.
  3. International marine information systems exist to interact and cooperate within a network of information centers, each of which is self-sufficient at the national level.
  4. Management of a cooperative network, based on the concept of confederation, is coordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission/IODE within the United National system, to ensure cohesion and coherency.
  5. Member States make a firm commitment to a national policy in marine information management, based on the framework, services, and products and nominate members to contribute to the IODE Group of Experts on Marine Information Management (GEMIM)

Additional Resources

The following links are provided as examples of information management and information accessibility globally, and nationally. For more links on a greater range of subjects related to Information Management please see Resources and Tools in the Links section.


  • The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) coordinates the peer review of scientific issues for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. CSAS also coordinates communication of the results of the scientific review and advisory processes. The following documents types are available for query in the CSAS publication search: science advisory reports, research documents, proceedings, scientific responses, stock reports, ecosystem status reports, and habitat status reports.


  • GeoConnections is a national partnership initiative led by Natural Resources Canada designed to facilitate access to and use of geospatial information in Canada through the development, integration and use of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI). The GeoConnections Discovery Portal is a metadata catalogue that enables GIS users, developers and data suppliers to find, evaluate, access, visualize and publish Canadian geospatial and geoscience data products and Web services. The CGDI Resource Center offers a number of relevant resources.


  • GEOSCAN is the bibliographic database for scientific publications of the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada. This database features over 60,000 records for ESS publications, including: publications of the Geological Survey of Canada and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Canada Topographic Maps, and external publications authored by ESS scientists and specialists. GEOSCAN also provides links to publications available online or for free download, as well as other information regarding ESS programs, and ordering publications.



  • The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) seeks to absorb, integrate, and assess isolated datasets into larger, more comprehensive pictures of life in our oceans. The system hopes to stimulate research about our oceans to generate new hypotheses concerning evolutionary processes, species distributions, and roles of organisms in marine systems on a global scale. OBIS provides a portal or gateway to many datasets containing information on where and when marine species have been recorded. The datasets are integrated so you can search them all seamlessly by species name, higher taxonomic level, geographic area, depth, and time; and then map and find environmental data related to the locations.


  • The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2004 and dedicated to promoting open data and open content in all their forms – including government data, publicly funded research and public domain cultural content.


  • The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global effort to make governments better. OGP is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of governments and civil society organizations. The Open Government Partnership formally launched on September 20, 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States) endorsed an Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans. Since September, OGP has welcomed the commitment of 47 additional governments to join the Partnership, including CanadaCanada’s Action Plan on Open Government is available from the OGP.

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