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A busy fall season for information managers

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Issue: 
Fall 2011

Don Henshaw (AND) and Margaret O’Brien (SBC)

Don and Margaret are Co-Chairs of the LTER Network Information Management Committee

One would be hard-pressed this fall to find an idle LTER Information Manager (IM).  Whether attending workshops, participating on Tiger Teams or writing production-oriented workshop proposals, network-level IM activities have been pervasive and every LTER site has been involved. Starting with the annual LTER IM Committee (IMC) meeting, the action has been non-stop. We highlight IMC activities here.

IMC/EIMC Meetings:

The IMC kicked off its annual meeting with a field trip and evening beach party before settling in for a one-day meeting. The IMC debated and approved our Terms of Reference document, which now formally describes our governance and decision-making processes. Active IMC working groups shared their current status and planned activities. The meeting focused on issues regarding assessment and usability of EML data packages, integration of ClimDB and other synthesis databases into the NIS PASTA framework, and presentation and discussion of the workflow concept within the PASTA architecture.

The IMC meeting was followed by the Environmental Information Management Conference (EIMC, https://eim.ecoinformatics.org), which LTER co-hosts with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE), and the University of New Mexico every three years.  LTER IM Corinna Gries (NTL) and Matt Jones of NCEAS were the 2011 conference co-chairs. The IMC uses this meeting format to interact with a wide variety of interested groups and individuals. This year’s meeting featured five “Birds of a Feather” sessions, which enabled discussion of specific topics in smaller groups, concurrent with speaker presentations of accepted papers. Four of these were led by LTER information managers and pertained directly to LTER’s current information challenges, and allowed for input from the full spectrum of EIMC participants.  

Fall workshops:

LTER Information Managers organized and/or participated in a series of informatics-based workshops. Most are described in Bob Waide’s LTER Network News article (http://news.lternet.edu/Article2446.html) but a summary follows here:

  • 13-14 Oct: Sherri Johnson (AND) organized the StreamChemDB workshop in Corvallis, Oregon, to demonstrate and gather feedback for the cross-site hydrochemical database. IMs and researchers from LTER, CUAHSI, CZO, USGS, NEON, and USFS participated.
  • 25-27 Oct: Lindsey Rustad (HBR) and Don Henshaw (AND) coordinated the use of NSF supplemental funds for 28 LTER IMs and researchers to attend the SensorNIS Environmental Sensor Network Workshop at Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire. Lindsey, Don and Corinna Gries (NTL) served on the planning and organizational team for the workshop. See the related DataBits article in this edition.
  • 1-3 Nov: Theresa Valentine (AND) coordinated the LTERMapS production workshop with members of the GIS Working Group in Albuquerque.
  • 8-11 Nov: Iñigo San Gil (MCM) led the second training workshop for the Drupal Ecological Information Management System (DEIMS) group.
  • 14-16 Nov: Corinna Gries (NTL) coordinated the “Preparing instructional materials for a course in LTER information management” workshop in Albuquerque. From Corinna, “this course will first be taught to LTER graduate students and interested faculty in 2012. Thereafter, an online course is envisioned while the developed materials will be available for use by anyone on the LTER IM website at http://im.lternet.edu/resources/training_material.”
  • Oct-Nov: Jamie Hollingsworth (BNZ) visited the LNO for an extended period to work on a new cartographic almanac.

Tiger Teams:

Tiger Teams allow IMs, researchers, and community members to contribute expertise and provide feedback to Network Information System (NIS) developers on the design and development of the NIS. Two new Tiger Teams kicked off in November:

  • Metadata quality: consider completeness and quality of metadata elements in establishing requirements for acceptance or rating the quality of a data package
  • NIS data portal: consider the user interface for accessing LTER data

Product-oriented proposals for NIS workshops:

As with previous years, the IMC members developed proposals for product-oriented workshops and IM compensation related to NIS development. These 2012 working groups will further our recent work with data package usability assessment tools, NIS database integration, and data discovery and delivery.

  • Requirements for the EML Dataset Congruency Checker (ECC) (O’Brien and Downing)
  • SiteDB restructuring and enhancement to support the integration of ClimDB/HydroDB and StreamChemDB into the NIS (Henshaw)
  • Enhancing NIS Data Portal to match the Data Portal function to LTER community needs  (Pockman, Servilla and Porter)
  • PersonnelDB Web Services Development at CCE (Connors, Sheldon, Bohm and Chamblee)
  • EML Diagnosis and Best Practice Implementation Mentor (Gastil-Buhl and Bohm)

Network-level activities:

  • Site information managers provide leadership roles on network committees, such as John Porter (VCR) as NISAC co-chair and Emery Boose (HFR) as the IMC representative on the LTER Executive Board.
  • Recent discussions among LTER scientists show that issues of data accessibility are of LTER-wide interest, and many IMs participated in a broadly attended conference call.
  • IM-Exec (http://im.lternet.edu/home/imexec/) continues to guide IMC activities. The IM-Exec winter meeting is being planned with a projected agenda to 1) consider site progress and products necessary to complement planned PASTA development, 2012-2014, 2) review data access issues, and 3) plan the IMC annual meeting, which will be held as part of the LTER ASM 2012 in Estes Park.
  • We welcome another informative issue of DataBits, with this issue edited by John Chamblee (CWT) and with assistance from Richard Cary (CWT) and Theresa Valentine (AND).