Earth-Centered Communication for Cyberinfrastructure (EC3): Incorporating a Joint Cyber-Science and Geoscience Perspective into Designing Field Data Management Systems

Taylor Swain, Geology Department, Sonoma State University
Matty Mookerjee, Geology Department, Sonoma State University
Marjorie Chan, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah
Yolanda Gil, Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California
Charles Goodwin, Department of Communications, University of California at Los Angeles

The geosciences rely heavily on investigating the natural world in situ, i.e., within "the field." In order to include field data into the cyberinfrastructure development efforts that are currently ongoing (e.g., EarthCube), we need to design field data management systems that can be incorporated into the typical field, geoscience workflows as unobtrusively as possible. To this end, the NSF-funded, EC3 project organized two field excursions in August '14 and '15 to Yosemite National Park and Owens Valley, which brought together representatives from both the geoscience and cyberinfrastructure communities. A major outcome of these interactions included discussions on both the positive and negative aspects of mobile devices (e.g., smart phones, tablets, ruggedized laptops, GPS, etc.) for field data collection. Unfortunately, no current standard exists with respect to the usage of these tools. This non-standardization is a significant challenge with respect to data sharing and designing an effective and transferrable cyberinfrastructure. As a group exercise, the EC3 participants created ranked lists of software/hardware recommendations for a field data management system and a list of metadata that should ideally be captured by the system. While several field data collecting apps exist for both the iOS and Android operating systems, there is some concern about the accuracy of these devices as well as the longevity, sustainability, and extensibility of these small-scale, independent mobile apps. During the EC3 trip, all participants were encouraged to take planar orientation measurements on a demarcated natural surface with their individual phones using several different commercially available apps. Preliminary results suggest that the data range was greater than 50o in the strike direction. In another group exercise the project participants discussed potential use-cases for an idealized EarthCube, integrated, database management system; in small groups they brainstormed different research and educational opportunities that such a system would provide. In order to facilitate scientific discovery, we need new data collection and management techniques that dovetail with current cyberinfrastructure activities to make field collection more efficient and real-time data synthesis more feasible.


Cutting edge research in structural geology geophysics geochemistry and tectonics