Understanding the ecology, condition, and changes of coastal areas requires data from many sources. Broad-scale and long-term ecological questions, such as global climate change, biodiversity, and cumulative impacts of human activities, must be addressed with databases that integrate data from several different research and monitoring programs. Various barriers, including widely differing data formats, codes, directories, systems, and metadata used by individual programs, make such integration troublesome. Coastal data partnerships, by helping overcome technical, social, and organizational barriers, can lead to a better understanding of environmental issues, and may enable better management decisions. Characteristics of successful data partnerships include a common need for shared data, strong collaborative leadership, committed partners willing to invest in the partnership, and clear agreements on data standards and data policy. Emerging data and metadata standards that become widely accepted are crucial. New information technology is making it easier to exchange and integrate data. Data partnerships allow us to create broader databases than would be possible for any one organization to create by itself.
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Managing troubled data: Coastal data partnerships smooth data integration