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South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)

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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (PES) Initiative

Fiscal Year 2004 Study Summary Report

Study Title: South Florida Information Access (SOFIA) Website
Study Start Date: 1996 Study End Date: 2007
Web Sites:
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Total System (All)
Funding Source: U. S. Geological Survey's Priority Ecosystems Science (PES) Initiative
Principal Investigator(s): Heather S. Henkel
Study Personnel: Tracy Enright, Kathy Pegram
Supporting Organizations: None
Associated / Linked Studies: SOFIA Database (Sonenshein), SOFIA Metadata (Stapleton), SOFIA IMS/Geospatial Interface (Sonenshein), Development of a Digital Geo/Bio-Library (Sonenshein)

Overview & Objective(s): The South Florida Information Access (SOFIA) system was created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1995. Its mission is to provide easy access to information about research projects and products generated as part of the USGS South Florida Priority Ecosystems Studies (PES) Program and other Federal, state, and local science providers. SOFIA provides this service by integrating information systems and tools enabling efficient storage, organization, and search and retrieval of scientific information about the south Florida ecosystem. SOFIA was designed to benefit three major user groups: USGS program managers and scientists working with the South Florida PES Program, managers and scientists working for other organizations involved with Everglades restoration, and members of the public interested in USGS research and/or the science behind the Everglades restoration effort.

SOFIA is an evolving and dynamic system that builds on the ever-increasing sophistication of new information technology. The current architecture consists of three integrated components: website, data, and metadata. The SOFIA website ( contains links to project descriptions, proposals, publications, data (through links to our data exchange site), metadata, presentations, and contact information, as well as general interest items, such as photographs and posters. The SOFIA site also is a portal through which you can access our extensive database and internet map server (IMS).

Status: During the April, 2003 Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration (GEER) conference, the SOFIA site conducted a usability test to determine how effectively the SOFIA site presented information and to also find out what we could do to improve the site. The site did very well, with 100% stating that they would return to the SOFIA site and 90% stating that the SOFIA team helps them do their job better. In addition to the usability study, the SOFIA website has a short survey that users can take online. Almost all users who have taken the survey are extremely happy with the website, not only with its wealth of information, but the ease with which they are able to access that information.

In the past year, the SOFIA website has continued to post all relevant south Florida information, including publications, data, metadata, as well as project and personnel information.

Recent Products: In January of 2004, SOFIA started producing "SOFIA News." SOFIA News is a bimonthly email update of new postings on the SOFIA website. These updates include announcements of new publications and data sets, new and continuing project information, notification of upcoming meetings, as well as other related information. Currently, SOFIA News has 140 subscribers.

Planned Products: In December of 2004 at the First National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER), SOFIA will demo an updated publications website which will include a more specialized, searchable interface. This database-driven website will allow users to search our online publications by author, title, date, publication type, and topic. Currently, users can view online publications either through a general search engine or by a static listing by topic or publication type. SOFIA has over 350 publications available online, and by providing this new interface, it will make finding publications easier.

Specific Relevance to Information Needs Identified in DOI's Science Plan in Support of Ecosystem Restoration, Preservation, and Protection in South Florida (DOI's Everglades Science Plan) [See Plan on SOFIA's Web site:]: The south Florida restoration effort requires multidisciplinary information related to present and historical conditions for use in responsible decision-making. The SOFIA website provides centralized, seamless access to all information produced by the USGS PES program, as well as other related information produced outside of the program.

Key Findings:

  1. SOFIA continues to increase the amount of information that is provided on the website. The SOFIA website currently contains over 6300 documents.
  2. SOFIA also continues to see an increase in the number of visitors from just under 80 per day in 1998 to over 1900 per day in 2004.
  3. SOFIA News continues to be a success in keeping scientists, managers and decision-makers appraised of new information available on the website. We have seen a steady growth in new subscribers since inception.

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:08 PM(KP)