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GLIN is dedicated to the memory of Carol A. Ratza, whose incredible vision and leadership created this partnership.

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The Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) is a partnership that provides one place online for people to find information relating to the binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region of North America. GLIN offers a wealth of data and information about the region's environment, economy, tourism, education and more. Thanks to its strong network of state, provincial, federal and regional partner agencies and organizations, GLIN has become a necessary component of informed decisionmaking, and a trusted and reliable source of information for those who live, work or have an interest in the Great Lakes region.

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Since the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, governments in the Great Lakes region have built a legacy of cooperation. Traditionally, collaboration has occurred through meetings, telephone conferences, newsletters and joint projects. But while the shelf life of information has decreased, the volume, diversity and need for quick access have increased dramatically. Conventional communication methods alone are no longer sufficient. Thus, the need for GLIN.
In 1991, the Great Lakes region began to look at the possibility of using Internet-based communications to cultivate an ecosystem-based approach to management of its natural, cultural and economic resources. GLIN development enlisted the participation of dozens of U.S. and Canadian federal and state/provincial agencies, and other public and private organizations with an interest in the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes. From the beginning, the GLIN project has been managed by the Great Lakes Commission, a nonpartisan, eight-state compact agency based in Ann Arbor, Mich. As the only Great Lakes organization with a statutory mandate to represent the collective views of the eight Great Lakes states, the Commission was uniquely suited to spearhead the GLIN initiative.
By mid-1993, a critical mass of agencies and organizations in the Great Lakes region agreed to develop GLIN to facilitate the linking of data, information and professionals in many disciplines, agencies and jurisdictions. The GLIN pilot identified a keen interest in the project, as well as a larger-than-predicted potential user community that included researchers, policymakers, industry leaders, and citizens from across the region and around the world.
GLIN began as a Gopher server, the Internet technology of choice at the time. In mid-1994, as the World Wide Web gained prominence on the Internet, GLIN began creating a few Web pages, but didn't make the Web its primary mode of information sharing until late 1994.
In the years since, GLIN usage has grown exponentially. Hits in February 1995 totaled 68,000; hits in March 2000 totaled 931,000. In the areas of overall usage and name recognition, GLIN has grown far faster than expected, which could be attributed to GLIN filling a niche or the active partnership-building that GLIN sought to promote. Committed to modern networking technology, GLIN's regional focus on the Great Lakes watershed provides a powerful shared concern among a wide array of participants spanning all levels of government in two separate countries.

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Design and Navigation
GLIN successfully employs an "ecosystem approach" in its navigational design, recognizing the integrated nature of the water, land, human and economic resources of the Great Lakes basin.
By navigating through the GLIN site, you'll notice frequent cross-linking of GLIN pages throughout the many different topical sections of the site. For example, "Laws and Policy" resources are available via one centralized page but, in addition, topical references to "Laws and Policy" are readily available under References in most all GLIN side navigation bars.
The intent with the GLIN design has always been to make the resources easily findable for visitors -- old and new -- by minimizing the number of clicks. By offering several navigation bars on each page, GLIN is designed so the information you seek should never be more than 2 or 3 clicks away.

The evolution of GLIN home pages:

Current (unveiled May 15, 2000)
    U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (MI) Welcomes You to GLIN (Quicktime video clip)

GLIN 10th Anniversary Presentation

View GLIN Interactive Presentation For the Great Lakes Information Network's 10th anniversary in 2003, this Flash interactive multimedia presentation was created for the Wingspread Conference, and displayed on the GLIN web site. Please click on the logo to launch the presentation.

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GLIN development and maintenance services are provided by the Great Lakes Commission. Technical support and connectivity is provided by Merit Network, Inc.
Additional financial backing and substantial in-kind contributions have come from the following:

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Online since 1993, GLIN has received awards and high praise as a one-stop-shopping resource on the Web for Great Lakes-related news, issues, organizations and activities.
StudySphere Award of Excellence (July 2006)
StudySphere honors outstanding online educational resources, and categorizes over 100,000 research-quality child-safe websites within an easy-to-use system to help students, teachers, parents and other researchers find quality information faster.

Outstanding Great Lakes Cultural Web Site (February 2001)
GLIN was recognized for its cultural importance, exceptional content and quality, and effective design. This inaugural award was presented by Michigan State University's Center for Great Lakes Culture.

Britannica Best on the Internet (January 2000)
Rated on quality, accuracy of content, presentation and usability.

KIDS Report selection (September 1999)
Chosen by K-12 students for depth and quality of content, credibility and design.

GeoSync Interactive-Silver Burdett Ginn Best of the Net Award (June 1996)
Honors web sites that integrate educational content with innovative uses of the Web, creating challenging and fun learning environments. As part of this award, GLIN is included on an educational CD-ROM Best of the Net - Science.

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GLIN has been featured in a variety of academic and popular journals and regional conferences. Recent articles are featured below.
The Great Lakes Information Network: Trials and Triumphs of an Integrated Approach to Web Design
Presented at the American Water Resources Association, Symposium on Water Resources and the World Wide Web: Dec. 5-9, 1999, in Seattle, Wash. Full proceedings, also available on CD.
The Great Lakes Information Network: Lessons Learned from an Integrated Approach to Web Design
Published in the June 1999 issue of Water International, journal of the International Water Resources Association. This Special Section on "Water Resources and the Internet" includes 10 papers from three continents.
Proceedings of "Out of the Fog: Furthering the Establishment of an Electronic Environmental Information Exchange for the Gulf of Maine
GLIN was one of several projects from around the country that shared challenges and successes in establishing regional information and data systems. The workshop, a collaborative effort between the New England Aquarium and the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, was held Nov. 4-6, 1998. Full proceedings (pdf).

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WaterWeb Ring
GLIN is a member of a WaterWeb ring, created in 1998 to promote the sharing of information concerning water and the earth's environment. By connecting water-related web sites through the ring, the WaterWeb consortium seeks to create a global community, bringing together educational, governmental, nonprofit and commercial entities interested in water research, conservation and management.
Jump to WaterWeb.Org, home of the WaterWeb Ring
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Updated: December 13, 2017
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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