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Vista Data Vision Software Training Workshop

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Issue: 
Spring 2013

Jason Downing (BNZ)

For those of you in the market for software solutions to better manage your complex sensor networks, one product vendor has recently developed a training curriculum to help you along the way. Along with other open-source and LTER network developed tools and methodologies with which to manage sensor networks, there are also some commercially available software options, one of which is Vista Data Vision (http://vistadatavision.com/vdv2013/). An earlier version of the VDV product was originally discussed in the Spring 2009 issue of Databits (http://databits.lternet.edu/issues/113). The developers have recently released the latest version of their product, VDV2013, and in conjunction with it have developed a training course to offer as support to their growing group of users. In early March, a call was sent out to the list of VDV users announcing that they would be offering an initial training class at their headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland for those users who are either new to the software or would like to better exploit all the improved features this software has to offer. There was significant interest in this offering and the available slots quickly filled up. I was personally lucky enough to obtain one of those slots. We have been using VDV at BNZ since the fall of 2008 and have worked with the developers at Vista to aid in the evolution and development of their product over time. With the recent product upgrades, we felt this would be an excellent opportunity to obtain some advanced training to facilitate our transition and implementation of the newest version and its expanded features.

This initial training was offered at no cost for its participants, but that will likely not be the model as they anticipate additional offerings in the future. They did an excellent job of developing a comprehensive curriculum to cover the setup, configuration and utilization of all the various product features. One of their most significant advancements is the transition to offer more of the software functionality through a web-based interface to simplify the server administration duties and improve control and utilization from remote locations by various system users. They have also added new tool kits to provide an enhanced Google Maps functionality and some additional graphical display opportunities. They also spent time discussing what is in development for future releases and seeking additional input as to what other features are in demand.

The opportunity to train and interact with the software developers in their home environment was extremely beneficial. They have always been open and willing to assist and answer questions via email but as always, the opportunity to be in the same room and have detailed discussions and work through specific application scenarios remains priceless in comparison. In addition to the training material and hands-on exercises, they provided additional time to interact one-on-one with each of the participants to discuss their individual application issues. They provided access to and support from all of their development staff so everyone in the training was able to customize the teaching examples for each participant’s particular situation or application. It was also valuable to interact with other software users and get a full appreciation of the breadth and variety of applications that the software is capable of supporting. The training was attended in large part by people in the geotechnical field, currently the largest user group of the software, but there were also people representing the wind power and environmental science fields. As a distributor of this software, Campbell Scientific also sent a representative to gain additional training information to better support their customers (which includes many of those associated with the LTER program).

The hospitality in Iceland is well known and the folks at Vista were no exception. They proved the rule with the utmost class and extended themselves beyond expectations to provide a complete and fully rewarding experience. If others using this software have the opportunity to participate in training events such as this, I would highly recommend taking of advantage of this opportunity when it is next available from the Vista Data Vision crew. Additionally, make sure to schedule some extra time to enjoy everything else that Iceland has to offer, which is abundant.