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On Site with TFRI

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Issue: 
Fall 2010

-Benjamin Leinfelder (NCEAS)

Though long-time collaborators, my recent two-week trip to Taiwan reified the collaborative momentum that has grown between NCEAS[1] and TFRI during the past year. With an increasing focus on international information management, the ecoinformatics team at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute - headed by Dr Chau-Chin Lin - remains a prominent advocate for robust data stewardship practices. I facilitated a series of hands-on tutorials and discussions that included topics on advanced Metacat deployment techniques, new Morpho features, extended applications of EML, and a primary focus on integrating Kepler as a crucial component in ecological data collection, management and analysis.

TFRI supports a network of research sites across the country with sensor arrays for collecting meteorological data, still images, and audio and video recording. Equipment deployed near the ecological pond at the Lienhuachih research station (figure 1) continuously streams audio to a central server where it will be used as raw biodiversity data. Similarly, a camera is trained on a patch of foliage to monitor phenological events in the preserve. The site serves as a proofing ground where Kepler will be employed for realtime quality assurance, data analysis, and archiving. Site-specific initiatives such as this dovetail nicely with existing techniques that NCEAS has pioneered on the REAP project[2] where Kepler workflows are used to monitor and manage sensor data collection from Data Turbine servers[3].

Lienhuachich tower

The usual sensor-in-the-field hurdles are not absent here: high humidity, varied terrain, frequent severe weather, unreliable wireless networks, finite battery power, etc. But a strong commitment to working through these physical barriers is palpable and evidenced by the zeal with which the TFRI team approaches their projects. They are well positioned to transition from being superusers of the KNB ecoinformatics software stack to being developers themselves, in true collaborative fashion. Moreover, they are able to provide concrete use-cases that challenge the current state of our technology and motivate enhancements to usability, interoperability, and quality - a boon for existing and emerging [international] cooperative data networks.

Dr Yu-Huang Wang describing audio equipment at TFRI

Figure 1. Dr Yu-Huang Wang describing the audio recording equipment in the field at Lienhuachih

[1] National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (http://nceas.ucsb.edu/)
[2] Realtime Environment for Analytical Processing (http://reap.ecoinformatics.org/)
[3] A server for realtime streaming data (http://www.dataturbine.org/)