PEER Lifelines Geotechnical Virtual Data Center, PEER Report 2009-108


This report describes in detail the technical specifications and results of the COSMOS/PEER-LL 2L03 project. The main goal of this project was to implement a fully functional online “Geotechnical Virtual Data Center” (GVDC), employing the most current geotechnical and geophysical (geosciences) data standards and web-based dissemination technology. The GVDC is intended to operate as a public, private, or possibly commercial web-based, one-stop center for sharing and disseminating geosciences data in accordance with the policy requirements of each entity that shares data via the G VDC. These entities—referred to as Data Providers— may consist of government agencies, private companies, and other data distribution centers or services that wish to share their geosciences data with other Data Providers and/or the public via the GVDC. The GVDC functions as a hub rather than an archive, whereby end (Internet) users can selectively search for, identify, and download data of interest, leaving Data Providers in full control over the primary storage and/or archiving of their own data.

This report begins with an overview of the results of previous phases (I and II) of COSMOS/PEER Projects 2L01 and 2L02, and how these efforts provided the functional and technical foundation for the outcome of Project 2L03. The data standards integrated into the GVDC system are presented. Initially, a complete set of modifications were made to the COSMOS XML Schema and Data Dictionary that were developed in Project 2L02. In Phase III, the COSMOS XML Schema was replaced with the Data Interchange for Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists (DIGGSml) data exchange format. This report includes the rationale for using DIGGSml and for the development of an additional interim standard— referred to as the cosmosDIGGS schema—that is now fully implemented in the GVDC. The cosmosDIGGS schema was devised as a temporary solution to demonstrate the operability of the GVDC system at present and to meet the development schedule for the project in the absence of an immediately deployable (i.e., ratified by scientific community consensus) version of the DIGGSml standard.

In addition, this report contains exhaustive information about the development of critical software components of the syst em architecture: the GVDC or GVDC Server, and those developments that specifically support Data Provider Servers. These server-side and client-side developments were deemed necessary to support both the use of DIGGSml and, by extension, the GVDC website data discovery functionalities. Specifically, this report documents modifications of the following GVDC-server components: the database structure, the back-end system architecture, and the tools and features on the GVDC website. New applications created to support Data Providers include translation programs for converting legacy geotechnical and geophysical data into the DIGGS format (or DIGGSml files), and the development and integration of the GVDC’s metadata exchange format—referred to as MetaDIGGS—for harvesting and storing small amounts of textual information about each record or “asset” (i.e., borehole) a Data Provider wishes to share. A clear outline of the requirements for a Data Provider to participate in the GVDC is then provided.

Also, during this project the GVDC-Server webs ite (web pages) and related applications developed in Project 2L02 were migrated from a proprietary Microsoft technology stack (i.e., Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASPs) scripting language with Windows IIS and MS Access) to an open source technology stack (i.e., PHP, JavaScript, and AJAX with Apache and PostgreSQL). In addition, a complete migration to Google Maps technology was executed as the sole GVDC-Server web-mapping application. An example dialog of the Internet-user experience is presented to demonstrate the general workflow for a typical end user of the GVDC website.

This document concludes with a look at relevant existing geosciences data and asset center business models and recommends principles for a viable future implementation and business model suitable for “official” launching of the GVDC. Suggested interim (i.e., two years) management and maintenance, including projected costs, are also provided.

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Appendix 3 (3.4 MB)

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J. Carl Stepp
Daniel J. Ponti
Loren L. Turner
Jennifer N. Swift
Sean Devlin
Yang Zhu
Jean Benoit
John Bobbitt
Publication date: 
September 5, 2009
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Stepp, J. C., Ponti, D. J., Turner, L. L., Swift, J. N., Devlin, S., Zhu, Y., Benoit, J., & Bobbitt, J. (2009). PEER Lifelines Geotechnical Virtual Data Center, PEER Report 2009-108. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.