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I nterior Department Electronic Acquisition System.—The Washington Administrative Service Center (WASC) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is heading the Department of the Interior (DOI) effort to establish electronic commerce (EC) projects in support of an Executive Order. In June 1994, the USGS began using EC at two pilot procurement offices in Reston, Va., and Denver, Colo. Three additional sites within the DOI are participating in the EC pilot: the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Denver, Colo., and the Minerals Management Service in Herndon, Va. Use of EC and the Interior Department Electronic Acquisition System (IDEAS) is expected to streamline small purchase activities and reduce procurement costs. DOI's early success with EC has already come to the attention of other Government agencies: the Treasury, Commerce, and Energy Departments have approached DOI about supporting their EC initiatives. Electronic commerce involves creating requests for quotations (RFQ's) in a standard electronic format that can be transmitted to an electronic bulletin board on a commercially operated value-added network (VAN). Commercial vendors subscribe to one of several VAN's to access Government RFQ's and to submit quotations to Government agencies electronically. An electronic purchase order can be issued to the winning vendor, and unsuccessful vendors also can be notified of their status electronically. Currently, DOl requirements are posted on 15 VAN's via the FEDNET Gateway operated by the Department of Defense. The DOI EC pilots have resulted in immediate savings to the Government by improving processing time and effort in the procurement offices, expediting purchasing through paperless processing, and reducing prices that the Government pays for products. Since the use of EC began, the reduction of paper in the purchasing process has decreased the 5- to 10-day processing time to 2 to 5 days and has resulted in savings in effort for both the Government and vendors. In addition to the reduced time frame, competition has increased. The number of vendor responses (quotes) has averaged 10 per RFQ. USGS Modernizes Product Sales and Inventory System.—The USGS modernized the product sales and inventory system used for USGS maps and books and
Administrative Support for Information Management
improved its accounting for product sales by modifying the Federal Financial System (FFS) Inventory Subsystem. The new system represents a pioneering effort to integrate the Departmental accounting system with a major business application, because the revised FFS Inventory software is fully integrated with the current DOI FFS application. The system ensures the integrity of the financial data available to the bureau financial system for fiscal year-end reporting to the Department; eliminates accounting weaknesses; reduces manual processing; integrates USGS product sales billing and accounts receivable information with the FFS, and improves inventory management capabilities. In its first 2 months of operation by employees who meet the demands of the public and of other Federal agencies for USGS maps and other earth science information products, over 20,000 orders were processed, representing the sale of several hundred thousand USGS products.
EROS Data Center Adds Space for Data Storage.—The USGS EROS Data Center (EDC) in Sioux Falls, S. Dak., is a data archiving, processing, distribution, and research facility for remotely sensed and other earth science data. The EDC has been a partner in the land satellite (Landsat) program since 1972, first with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), then with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and currently with Landsat's commercial operator, the Earth Observation Satellite Corporation. The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 established the USGS as the permanent archive for Landsat data.
A contract valued at $8,654,200 was competitively awarded by the USGS for the construction of a 65,000square-foot addition to the EDC. The addition will house computers and peripherals that will also support the highspeed and high-volume processing and storage of data gathered by NASA under the Earth Observing System program, the principal component of NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth." The first satellite launch in support of the program is scheduled for 1998; subsequent launches will follow over the next 15 years. The EDC will be the archiving, processing, and distribution center for all land processes data from this program as well as the sole repository for all Landsat data collected by the five satellites operated during the program's 20-year life.
such as addition, to be executed in parallel on the same subscript values, those combining
For more information on coastal circulation
the respective components of two objects. To matrices indexed by differing values, and
computer modeling, contact Harry L. Jenter code an efficient parallel program, the pro- those combining matrices having different at: grammer must still be aware of the hardware dimensions. Telephone: (703) 648–5916 characteristics (the computational and com- A conversion of the ECOM-si code to Internet: hjentergstress.er.usgs.gov munications speeds of the parallel machine) TMC Fortran is currently underway. Prelimi
OR as well as software issues such as data layout.
Pearl Y. Wang at:
nary versions of the code have been tested by performance gains over serial workstations have been attained. At present, the Massachusetts Bay model runs at speeds comparable to those of a Cray X-MP. However, the code needs to be optimized, and data partitioning needs to be improved to achieve better performance.
Internet: pywangostress.er.usgs.gov In the ECOM-siserial code, calculations using 64 and 128 CM-5 processor systems. involving discrete cells often take three forms: These tests have been performed with relaoperations that combine matrices by using tively small numbers of grid cells, and
The key to a successful parallel implementation of the coastal circulation model is to achieve a balance between computation and communication speeds. Further, it is important to use algorithms that lend themselves to parallelization for the particular parallel system being employed. As CPU development bumps up against the serious engineering barriers of faster computer clock speeds, parallel computing may become the only option for increasing model computation speed as well as for increasing the size of the model grid available to address coastal ocean resource management questions in the future.
Harry L. Jenter is a research hydrologist at the USGS,
Pearl Y. Wang is a professor of computer science at George Mason University.
“National Water Conditions” Report Goes “Online”
he monthly “National Water Condi
tions” report was made available on the Internet in October 1994. Within a month, circulation of the new electronic format had exceeded that of the former paper version, and it continues to increase. Readers can view maps of monthly streamflow conditions, ground-water levels, and charts of monthly streamflow at more than 200 stations. Response to the new electronic format and the timeliness has been enthusiastic.
The “National Water Conditions” report, which is produced in cooperation with Environment Canada, had been published monthly since 1944 and mailed free to 5,000 subscribers. Postage and printing costs, however, continued to rise, and readers wanted to see the information more quickly. In August 1994, a team was formed to investigate electronic distribution of the report; by October,
Awards for Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quadrangle and Digital Line Graph Production
s part of expanded partnerships with industry, the U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS) has contracted with seven firms to produce digital orthophoto quarter quadrangles, or DOO's. DOO's are digital images of aerial photographs that combine the image characteristics of a photograph with the geometric qualities of a map. These innovative cartographic products are used by planners, engineers, and Government agencies to update changes in land use, transportation, and utility corridors and can also be used to analyze vegetation patterns, manage timber resources, assess wildlife habitats, delineate floodplains, and identify areas of potential soil erosion. DOO's are part of the National Digital Cartographic Data Base and are available to the public. Additionally, DOO's are shared with requesting State agencies and Federal Government agencies such as the Soil Conservation Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service.
Orders worth a total of $1.8 million also were placed under 10 con
tracts with private firms for digital line graph (DLC) production services in support of the USGS's responsibility to administer the national mapping program and to populate the National Digital Cartographic Data Base (NDCDB). The services performed by the companies holding these contracts include digitizing features portrayed on USGS topographic quadrangle maps at scales ranging from 1:24,000 to 1:100,000 and processing these data into one of two DLG-compatible formats. These contracts are a means through which all Department of the Interior bureaus can digitize base category data from USGS topographic base maps in a form that the USGS can upgrade and (or) enter into the NDCDB and thereby eliminate
duplicate projects conducted by individual bureaus.
the team's recommendations had been accepted, and the first electronic version was released.
Readers can view the report by using the popular Mosaic software package, which is available at no cost over the Internet. Mosaic is used for many scientific and commercial presentations because of its ability to show text and graphics. A key decision was to discontinue the paper version of the report and to focus on producing the electronic version. The Mosaic software allows users to print individual pages on their own printers.
Producing an all-electronic report introduced several new opportunities. Page limits imposed by the paper report restricted streamflow charts to only six to eight carefully selected stations. The new format allows users to customize their own reports either by selecting stations from a scrolling list of more than 200 station names or by pointing to a map of the stations. Because printing and
Earth science infor
mation ranging from the latest flood data through scientific animations of Currents in Boston Harbor and flyovers of digital landscapes to the latest USGS press releases can be found by accessing the USGS Home Page on the World WideWeb. To reach the Home Page, open the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and enter:
To access the “National Water Conditions Report," open the URL and enter: http://h?o.usgs.gov
Example of the map of monthly stream conditions shown in the “National Water Conditions" report.
For more information on the "National Water Conditions" online report and other digital water-resources information, contact Kenneth Lanfear at:
Telephone: (703) 648–6852 Internet: lanfeargusgs.gov
Accessing the World Wide Web server requires a program that can communicate with the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and that can display the hypertext, graphics, audio, and scientific visualizations that are currently available. Mosaic, a program from the National Center for Supercomputer Applications, will allow this information to be displayed on computers using HTTP Gopher, WAIS, Telnet, or FTP protocols. Internet users who do not have access to the World Wide Web can still retrieve a number of USGS databases by using FTP protocols. For example, the National Cartographic Data Base, which includes both cartographic and topographic digital databases at scales ranging from 1:24,000 to 1:2,000,000 can be found at "edcftp.cr.usgs.gov." The data are in directories found under the "/pub/data" directory. For further information on the USGS World Wide Web server, contact “Webmaster@usgs.gov."
mailing have been eliminated, sections of the report can be released as soon as they are prepared (similar to the “early” and “late” editions of a newspaper), so that a delay in one section does not delay the whole report. As a result, more information gets to more users faster and at less cost.
The new “National Water Conditions” report has been a big success so far. Readers have accessed it from more than 4,000 sites from all over the world. A new (and instantaneous) “feedback" page included with the report has returned many positive comments and indicated great interest in more such publications. As one reader said, “Every time I see real solid information added to the web I am absolutely delighted. Great job all of you.”
Kenneth J. Lanfear is responsible for ensuring that “cybersurfers” on the Internet can find and retrieve the water-resources information that they need.
A Distributed Spatial Data Library for the U.S. Geological Survey
A conceptual design is being implemented for an online library of spatial data, programs, and documentation to support hydrologic studies in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Called the Distributed Spatial Data Library (DSDL), it is a set of local spatial data libraries that will house spatial data and data indexes for common use. The library concept includes definitions of format and organization of spatial and attribute data, programs, and associated documentation used by USGS databases and applications programs; programs required to query and evaluate the data stored in the library; and the anticipated processing environment in which the library would operate. These concepts are being used to implement and populate the DSDL in nearly 100 offices that collect digital spatial data within the USGS by September 1995.
Conceptual Organization of the Distributed Spatial Data Library
he library includes a core of common
spatial data, metadata that document each data set, software that is designed to operate on specific data sets or to work generically within a geographic information system (GIS), and indexes and help files for the available supported software. Standard “recipes” for the preparation or use of specific data layers would be developed by authors and users of the data sets, thus relating the various pieces in what are termed “data-automation guidelines.”
New emphasis has been placed on the value of digital information within the Federal Government in general and on digital spatial data in particular. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130 specifies that agencies must make information available in digital form and make more information electronically accessible through online computer networks, such as the Internet, or through dial-in bulletin board services. The need for a DSDL has long been recognized by the user community. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) began a prototype spatial data clearinghouse activity in late 1992 to identify spatial data holdings, their applicability, and their availability. Proposals to develop a National Information Infrastructure and a National Spatial Data Infrastructure underscore this general requirement to organize and document spatial data holdings and to improve access to them (see p. 63).
At present, GIS software does not provide for the consistent management of descriptive information about data sets, known as metadata, or permit discovery and retrieval of such data, computer programs, and recognized techniques among users in either a local- or a wide-area network setting. A need exists in the USGS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to develop an online system to manage digital spatial data, associated computer programs, standardized procedures and data-set-naming conventions, and related documentation to support a variety of hydrologic and database applications in a distributed processing environment. The USEPA is assisting in the development of this online system with the USGS.
The premise of DSDL-applying a distributed database approach to disparate
H Data-automation guidelines | ITITI I Meta- Vector data data Spacial Program base data index programs Raster T (index) data | I User interface
collections of spatial data—was adopted by the FGDC in 1993 as part of a prototype spatial data clearinghouse. The clearinghouse prototype involved more than 60 participating Federal, State, and private organizations in the preparation and online dissemination of descriptions of spatial data holdings. The USEPA also has begun to apply DSDL concepts and software in the development of its spatial-data-management plan and has been helping develop the software tools required to make DSDL a reality.
Design of the Data Structure
f a library concept is to be successful and
be accepted by the end user, all data types must be identifiable and accessible through a common set of tools. A library is defined as a collection of map themes that have the same inherent tiling, or partitioning, structure. Multiple map libraries, which correspond to different collections of data, may be created and managed at a single site. Tiles are defined as closed geographic areas or units of map management by which data are produced, edited, and distributed. Some States build map libraries in which the tiling unit is a township because lands are administered in those units. Updates are typically processed by township, reports are typically written by township, and queries are typically run against a given township. Some States manage their map data by quadrangle because they are collected by quadrangle. For scientific applications, it is preferable that data be managed in units that correspond to the way the data were collected and the way they will be used. Collections of stream traces, like the USEPA River Reach File, should be logically organized by river basin rather than by quadrangle. Other data
Conceptual organization of DSDL. At the core of DSDL are collections of vector and raster spatial data sets and programs that work on specific or general types of data. The data sets and, in particular, their documentation can be indexed by textual content and by geographic location, or footprint. Users must be able to browse existing data holdings before beginning a new project to avoid reprocessing or digitizing existing data. They should be able to query the holdings of a database on the basis of a combination of text terms and geographic extent through the interactive definitions of a polygon on the screen and to have potential matches listed and accessible.
may be organized by State or county or by project area.
A library of data layers for the conterminous United States (CUSA) is maintained by the USGS in Reston, Va., and contains smalland intermediate-scale data sets giving full coverage of the lower 48 States. These data are prepared for Statewide, regional, and national analysis and are often used as backdrop maps or for the preparation of base-map materials. The CUSA library has been distributed internally within the USGS on CD-ROM for reference by water-resources applications, such as the National Water Information System.
Data Access in a Distributed Environment
I. was originally anticipated that specialized software would be needed to provide nonproprietary access to spatial data, programs, and documentation, such as guidelines and data dictionaries. In late 1991, the Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) software was identified by the USGS as a potentially useful public-domain software system for the dissemination of earth science data. The WAIS software was jointly developed by Apple Computer, Thinking Machines Corporation, and Dow Jones and Peat Marwick as a means to rapidly index and to provide access to searching through entire text documents by using unstructured text queries across a widearea network. The WAIS software has proved robust enough to permit custom enhancements, such as fieldlike data retrieval, spatial indexing and retrieval of documents, and support of multiple file types (for example, a text file, a graphic file, and a binary data file all as a result of a single query) by USGS and collaborating authors. The WAIS software is being used by the DSDL project for online posting of digital data set documentation, graphic “snapshot” files, compressed GIS data layers for retrieval, data-dictionary entries, and software available within the USGS. Spatial extensions to WAIS were done in concert with the FGDC's Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Workgroup to provide Internet accessibility to data and descriptive information held by primarily Federal users of GIS. The concepts of DSDL and WAIS rely on the fact that the data most likely to be updated and properly maintained are those
that are kept in the local office and are in constant local use. Rather than creating a centralized repository of digital spatial data, individual offices with GIS capability will manage and post spatial data, programs, and documents from the local site. A central directory of servers—a “who's who" of digital spatial data—will be created by the USGS Reston DSDL office but only as a referral service to aide the discovery of actual data distributed in the field. This directory of servers also will reference other catalogs of earth science information known to be held in WAIS servers by the USGS and other earth science agencies. The accessibility of information has been greatly increased by World Wide Web clients such as Mosaic, which also are able to access and query these stores of data via gate
Publication of Digital Spatial Data
he USGS and the USEPA have devel
oped a spatial-data-documentation program (DOCUMENT) that facilitates the collection and management of important metadata. This program facilitates the collection of information that will be mandatory for data transfer by using the Spatial Data Transfer Standard. DOCUMENT will document any spatial data set that will be used in hydrologic investigations to prepare soft- or hard-copy maps or will be accessed by more than one user. It also manages four types of information—basic data-set characteristics, a data dictionary, references to published source(s), and a narrative section for extended discussion of data automation techniques and revisions. Where such information exists, all four types of information will be collected and managed for all types of spatial databases to facilitate appropriate use and reuse of the data. The output of the DOCUMENT program has been modified to be compliant with the FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata. This modification allows exchange of metadata in a common set of terms.
Placement of standardized and reviewed data in DSDL will permit access to local data, remote data libraries, and indexes and will provide a mechanism for the automated retrieval of published spatial data sets across the wide-area network. Documented digital spatial data sets must be published on a digital medium suitable for distribution or placed