In May 2004, the NERC British Geological Survey (BGS) was commissioned by the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide technical assistance with preparation of new content for the SGS website (English language version), and to advise on its future management in the short to medium term.
The work was completed by Dr.Andrew Howard and Mr Andrew McKenzie of BGS during late May and June 2004, according to the following guidelines set by SGS:
1- Evaluate the existing website content and highlight areas requiring drafting of new material.
2- Acquire new content for the website through interviews with SGS staff and from publications, wall displays and presentations.
3- Enhance the website structure to make it more informative and searchable.
4- Recommend a strategy for future management of the website and development of data serving applications and E-commerce.
Website Content and Structure
Following review of existing content, new material was prepared for the key parts of the website that describe the current activities and services provided by SGS. These sections were extensively re-structured to provide information on the context, methodology, outputs and timescales of current SGS projects, supported by copious illustrations in the form of photographs, diagrams and maps. SGS services to the community are described, with current price lists where relevant. Over 50 web pages of new content, each equivalent to a brochure or small poster in length, have been prepared for this section, describing the activities of all SGS geoscience, IT and laboratory departments. Existing pages describing the current state of knowledge of the Geology, Geophysics, Marine Geology and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia were evaluated as satisfactory in their current form. The existing sections describing the geohazards of the Kingdom contained only minimal content. New text and illustrations were therefore provided to enhance this section substantially, based on existing SGS publications. The Home and About Us pages require action by SGS to prepare new pages on partnerships, current job vacancies, recent clients and a statement on SGS quality assurance accreditations. The Photo Gallery is a very attractive feature of the site and needs to be continually augmented with new material and arranged into thematic sets. Most importantly, the Contact SGS page needs updating in accord with an agreed SGS policy for managing business and scientific queries from website users.
Management of the Website
The report sets out over 50 recommendations concerning the content and future management of the SGS Website. Of these, we consider the following to be the most important:
1- Appoint a website manager in SGS with specific responsibility for both the intranet and Internet sites.
2- Prepare, and adhere to, a strategy and management plan for development of the intranet and internet sites over the next three years. Preparation of this plan should be the first task of the newly appointed SGS website manager.
3- Install ‘development’ and ‘review’ instances of the website on SGS servers to enable design and checking of website content prior to upload onto the ‘live’ website hosted by MeduNet.
4- Integrate drafting of web content on SGS programs and projects into the annual planning and reporting cycles to minimize the additional work involved and encourage SGS staff to consider web reporting as an integral part of their duties. Retain the existing network of representatives to pull together content for each department.
5- Draft technical procedures and workflows for development and management of content for the website, in both English and Arabic, and post the guidance on the SGS intranet site.
6- Train members of the SGS Web Design team in the use of Cold Fusion web development software.
7- Use common databases for delivery of information on both the intranet and Internet.
8- Introduce Web GIS technology as an index to SGS datasets in the first instance, progressing through a series of well-planned steps to serving digital data via the Internet. Web GIS technology should be introduced in stages, commencing with less complex and expensive Image Map and Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG) technology, progressing to Arc Internet Map Server (or similar) via a planned program over the next two years.
9- Introduce e-commerce in a series of planned stages, commencing with population and validation of the underpinning databases. Sales of information should at first emphasize sale of hard copy, using Web GIS as an index to availability.
10- All web applications based on delivery of ‘live’ information from SGS databases, for example Web GIS, should be thoroughly tested on the SGS intranet before loading to the internet website.
Howard, A.S., and McKenzie, A.A., 2004, Development and management of the Saudi Geological Survey website, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Saudi Geological Survey Open-File Report SGS-OF-2004-10, 38 p., 3 figs., 5 tables, 6 apps.