Project Title/ID Number Archiving & Web Dissemination of Geotechnical Data—2L02
This description is a combination of projects 2L02 and 2L02a
Start/End Dates 5/23/02 – 3/31/04
Project Leader J. Carl Stepp (COSMOS/O), Jennifer Swift (USC/F)
Team Members Charles Real (CGS/I), Diane Vaughn (CGS/I), Jean Benoit (UNH/F), Daniel Ponti (USGS/I), Mindy Squibb (UCSB/I), Joe Futrelle (UI NCSA/GS), Joseph Sun (PG&E/I), John Bobbitt (POSC/I), Loren Turner (Caltrans/I), Cliff Roblee (Caltrans/I), Paul Grimes (COSMOS/O), Alexei Peters (Caltrans-Farallon Graphics/O), Shahzad Tiwana (USC/GS), Dennis Wuthrich (Caltrans-Farallon Graphics/O), Jianping Hu (USC/GS), Sam Mansukhani (FHWA/I), Thomas Lefchik (FHWA/I)

F=faculty; GS=graduate student; US=undergraduate student; PD=post-doc; I=industrial collaborator; O=other

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1. Project Goals/Objectives:

Develop a Pilot System for web-based dissemination of linked geotechnical database archives, develop and implementation plan, and plan and conduct a workshop to review and obtain input and consensus of the geotechnical community.

2. Role of this project in supporting PEER’s mission (vision):

This project supports PEER Lifelines research goals. It is focused on linking distributed geotechnical databases and providing an optimum structure for web dissemination of data from the linked providers through a virtual data dissemination center.

3. Methodology Employed:

The project methodology to establish baseline current geo-professional practice for generating, archiving, and disseminating geotechnical data and information. Results of the survey are being used to:

  1. identify users and providers of geotechnical data,
  2. identify types of geotechnical data and information of greatest interest,
  3. determine the lifecycle of geotechnical data,
  4. determine the patterns of use of geotechnical data,
  5. identify the functional requirements for a web-based geotechnical data dissemination system which links multiple database archives with respect to user interface, method of access, data providers’ policies governing availability of data, and type and format of data.

4. Brief Description of past year’s accomplishments (Year 6) & more detail on expected Year 7 accomplishments:

Year-6 was devoted to completing the back-end harvesting architecture, XML schema, data provider specific data translators, and a user-friendly interface.

In order for the database providers to maintain complete downloadable records, which can be efficiently retrieved by the GVDC, translators were written for each individual database provider’s data sets. The translators export the data from providers’ databases into XML files, which are stored on a web-accessible directory on the providers’ production servers. The translators map attributes according to the GVDC data dictionary standard. A GIS-based map front-end user interface and an attribute based (text) querying user interface were developed, both of which will query the Database metadata only. Following a query the user is provided a list of applicable records and is able to retrieve the complete XML data records stored on a web accessible directory on the database providers’ production servers in real-time using URLs to those files. This supercedes the initial design which used an attribute-based (only, no GIS-based interface) query system to view applicable lists of data within the Harvester Database data repository, and download complete data records from there.

The Harvester Database repository now only contains a limited number of attributes as search page query parameters. These are metadata parameters common to the linked database providers. Each database provider has an additional translator written for their OS on top of the OAIB, which exports their complete data records for dissemination in the GVDC XML schema.

The front-end search page allows users to search the GVDC Database for metadata parameters only. The parameters are delivered as a list of records organized by data types determined by the GVDC data dictionary categories of tables. The user can query by selecting data types of interest, record name, boring name, or other data identifiers. Java servlets send individual request/queries in sequence to individual database providers’ XML data sets, which reside on the database providers’ servers. The servlets retrieve data record(s), according to the XMLschema, and deliver them to the user in an Excel Spreadsheet (priority 1); or in downloadable XML (ASCII) format, where the XMLschema may also be provided (i.e. as a link) (priority 2).

The commercial code, ArcIMS, is being programmed into the GVDC architecture. ArcIMS applications can be ported to multiple OS’s, including Linux and Microsoft. ArcIMS will be utilized to provide an interactive map of California, utilizing the most recent available free map layers available from ESRI of cities, roads and highways, and county boundaries and allow the user to draw a box that defines coordinates that are transferred from the map to Lat Lon fields in a query page. This string is passed to the Java Search Page using JSP (Java Server Pages) and to a page listing the results. The user can then continue with the Java Search Page, choosing/entering parameters and processing a query to the Harvester Database repository using a Submit button. A separate code processes the query to the Harvester Database, as ArcIMS out-of-the-box doesn’t support MySQL. The Harvester Database repository structure is designed to be relatively simple, extensible, and adaptable to such proprietary databases in the future). The data retrieval will proceed as described above.

5. Other Similar Work Being Conducted Within and Outside PEER and How This Project Differs:

Work related to elements of the pilot virtual geotechnical data center is being done by a number of groups:

  1. A geotechnical database to support seismic hazard mapping is under development by the California Geological Survey,;
  2. The ROSRINE Geotechnical Engineering Database and Website,;
  3. The USGS is developing a geologic site database and data acquisition for stratigraphic model development,;
  4. An integrated geotechnical Database, Kobe Jibankun, for seismic hazard studies is under development at Kobe University,;
  5. The Federal Highway Administration has developed a web-enabled deep foundation load test database,;
  6. The National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites Database currently can be accessed by the web,

Detailed descriptions of these activities are provided in Swift, et al., “Invited Workshop on Archiving and Web Dissemination of Geotechnical Data,” Proceedings of a COSMOS/PEER Workshop, October 4 & 5, 2001, COSMOS Publication No. CP-2001/03.

These single databases are or will be web-accessible. The 2L02 project will develop a pilot system to link multiple databases in a virtual system that can be accessed simultaneously. By accessing the system with a search vector, the user will be able to search all databases of linked data providers.

6. Plans for Year 8 if project is expected to be continued:

The project is scheduled to be completed in Year-7.

7. Describe any actual instances where you are aware your results have been used in industry:

The pilot system is not available for use at this time.

8. Expected Milestones & Deliverables:

  1. Pilot VDC system design.
  2. Pilot system software.
  3. Pilot system implementation plan
  4. Project final report
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