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GeoNIS Project Update

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Spring 2013

Adam Skibbe (KNZ), Theresa Valentine (AND), Aaron Stephenson (NTL), Jamie Hollingsworth (BNZ), Ron Beloin

Following the 2012 All Scientists Meeting, the GIS Working Group hired a developer to help realize a working version of the GeoNIS. Using funds provided by the Network Office, the GIS Working Group hired Ron Beloin, a programmer from Oregon State University with a background in Geographic Information Systems and web services, to develop the GeoNIS workflows. In addition, funding allowed for a 2 day meeting at the LNO in January that included core GeoNIS personnel and Mr. Beloin to construct a work plan. At this meeting we worked with LNO staff to identify how the GeoNIS may best be incorporated into the NIS as a whole. Focal points included full integration with PASTA, defining the workflows needed to move data from PASTA into a working Geographic Information System, and integrated geospatial quality checks. Jamie Hollingsworth worked with LNO staff to configure and test the network server, including providing remote access for the GeoNIS team members. As a means to remain compliant with the interests of the individual LTER sites, the group decided that any dataset with restrictions would not be ingested at this time.

As described in the Sping 2012 Databits (, the GeoNIS will provide workflow tools to extract spatial data from site level EML housed in the PASTA framework, develop web mapping services for individual LTER sites, and support cross site efforts (StreamChemDB and ClimDB/HydroDB). The project will also provide quality checks for vector and raster datasets analogous to what PASTA does for tabular datasets. The workflows being developed by Mr. Beloin use Python programs and XSL stylesheets. All processes are being developed on a server in the LTER Network Office with ESRI software (specifically, ArcGIS Server 10.1) on a PostgreSQL database. The workflows rely on EML documents to identify spatial datasets within PASTA, and to provide descriptions of the data within the mapping and image services. Linkage to the PASTA data packages and source EML are maintained within the GeoNIS.

The following workflow products were initially tested with sample EML files (not in PASTA), and have been further tested on a subset of data drawn from PASTA (KNZ and NTL scopes):

  1. Discover and retrieve data inside of PASTA that has not yet been processed into the GeoNIS
  2. Unpack PASTA data packages and parse the EML file
  3. Perform data quality checks
  4. Load vector type data into geodatabase
  5. Augment metadata for vector data
  6. Load raster type data into raster geodatabase
  7. Augment metadata for raster data
  8. Update map documents (used for creating web mapping services) and/or master mosaic datasets (used for creating image services)
  9. Refresh map and image services and update layer information for queries
  10. Update geodatabase with tracking and progress information
  11. Compress and archive work directories; perform other cleanup tasks

Next steps include setting up scheduled polling of PASTA for new datasets to ingest, ingesting data from additional sites (moving the GeoNIS from testing to production), developing a user interface to help site personnel access the web mapping services, and developing web applications for viewing the spatial data. Provided there are no major hiccups in development, there will be an update and demonstration on GeoNIS at the 2013 LTER IMC meeting.

Once spatial data for a site is stored in the GeoNIS, researchers/students will be able to access GIS data from the map and image services (for their site and cross-site) and use them in desktop GIS software or through web mapping applications. Eventual functionality will include providing geospatial analysis products, gazetteer services, and interactive web mapping portals (like LTERMapS). The GeoNIS team will be working on helping sites use the web services, and providing additional functionality as found to be valuable. It is our goal that the GeoNIS be the geospatial backbone of the NIS, and will provide quality-checked data and services to those wishing to use these data and services into the foreseeable future.