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The continuous degradation of the quality of the St.-Lawrence river has been a major concern of the federal and provincial authorities in Canada. In order to correct the situation, the federal government has put forward in 1988 the five year St.-Lawrence Action Plan. The St.-Lawrence Centre was created to manage a part of the plan. The development of a decision support system based on geographical information system (GIS) technology was recognized as an important need for the St.-Lawrence Centre early in the plan. A description of the users and major operational needs is given, followed by the elaboration of a data structure and description of the system design. The system was developed on microcomputers with a “modular data-set” approach. The data structure is conceptually very close to an object-oriented database, where each dataset can be considered as an object with spatial, temporal, quantitative, and qualitative attributes. In the prototyping stage, the system comprises a collection of loosely connected datasets of raster based maps linked via small programmed interfaces to attributes managed by a relational database. Documentation of each dataset and related map construction is maintained in a relational database. Future developments will address the problem of temporal data, consolidation of the database due to the implementation of environmental monitoring networks, amelioration of the user interface and use of multimedia technology to integrate text, image, and sound.
geographical information systems (GIS), object oriented database, St.-Lawrence river, environment, state of the environment reports, St.-Lawrence Action Plan, St.-Lawrence Centre
Research officer, St.-Lawrence Centre, Montreal, Quebec