The Polar Data Catalogue (www.polardata.ca) is Canada’s primary on-line source for data and information on research in the Polar Regions. Research projects presented in the Catalogue are conducted under the auspices of a wide variety of programs, including ArcticNet, the Northern Contaminants Program, NSERC-funded programs and the Government of Canada Program for the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008. The catalogue is also being increasingly adopted for use throughout the Arctic, for example for the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program The scope of the research covers a range of disciplines, from natural sciences to policy to health and social sciences.
An analysis of the information available in the Polar Data Catalogue has been undertaken in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Geomatics. The analysis was done using the spatial OLAP tool (SOLAP) that allows for linking multidimensional data and spatial data and to manipulate, view and easily explore global as well as detailed information on one or several maps, tables and statistical charts synchronized at will. This technology supports highly interactive analytical capabilities of multi-scale, multi-themes and multi-epochs data by relying on concepts from Business Intelligence (BI) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). We used the SOLAP tool to analyze the metadata records of the Polar Data Catalogue using, among others, research programs, research fields, project keywords, and research locations as dimensions of the SOLAP spatial datacube. For example, we were able to visualize in a few mouse clicks where research is (or was) globally or specifically conducted in the Canadian Arctic, what are the general as well as precise topics most and less studied and where most research is conducted, as well as where specific projects are located. The SOLAP analytical interface for the Polar Data Catalogue provides an innovative new tool that may be used by researchers, stakeholders, and policy and decision-makers to identify future Arctic research and information needs.