« PreviousContinue »
support scientific research. As an indication of the rapid proliferation of computerized data bases, the 1987 Directory of Online Databases listed a total of 3,369 data bases accessible to the public through national and international telecommunications networks. The number of data bases listed has increased eightfold since the Directory was first published in 1980.
The U.S. Geological Survey itself has experienced a steady increase in the number of data bases designed and maintained by its employees to promote earth science research. In addition, many of the organizations that conduct joint research projects with the USGS are experiencing a rapid growth in data bases of earth science information. Sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS) are being designed to collect, manage, and analyze large volumes of spatial data. Through the use of GIS technology, scientists are able to merge geologic, hydrologic, and cartographic data sets to study complex interrelationships and to solve vexing earth science problems. Before the tool of GIS technology can be used to its fullest extent, however, there must first be a means to locate the existing data sets that are needed. There also must be an efficient way to locate and access the data bases to reduce costs of geoscience investigations when possible.
Both the current trend in proliferating data bases and the emerging spatial-data analytical technologies, such as geographic information systems, have fostered a growing need for information-management
tools. The USGS continues to respond to this need by maintaining the Earth Science Data Directory. Created in 1985, the Earth Science Data Directory contains references to USGS data bases and a growing number of available data sources maintained by other Federal and State agencies, academia, and the private sector. The Earth Science Data Directory is designed to assist researchers in identifying and locating data bases that are either automated or nonautomated and that contain naturalresources information. Each entry in the directory contains detailed information on the scope and availability of data bases. The information contained in the directory assists researchers in determining compatibility of data sets for use with analytical tools such as geographic information systems.
The U.S. Geological Survey encourages participation in the Earth Science Data Directory among the scientific community. Successful accomplishment of the Survey's mission to provide geologic, hydrologic, and topographic information that facilitates managing the Nation's natural resources requires state-of-the-art information-management technology. In addition to designing and maintaining a nationwide data directory, the Survey continues to investigate methods to make it easier to access major earth-science data bases.
Intermediary, front-end systems, commonly known as gateway systems, have emerged in the automation marketplace to
assist users with the complex protocols for accessing data bases far and wide through telecommunications networks. The Survey has developed its own gateway system— the Earth Science Information Network (fig. 10)—which gives users easy access to seven major systems and data bases maintained by the USGS. These data bases and systems are Earth Science Data Directory (inventory of data bases), Cartographic Catalog (inventory of cartographic products), Digital Cartographic Data Base (digital elevation models and digital line graphs), Geographic Names Information System (cultural or physical geographic names), National Water Data Exchange (NAWDEX) (water data indexing service), News (news releases issued by the USGS Public Affairs Office), and U.S. Geological Survey Library System (automated card catalog).
In addition to the Earth Science Information Network, the USGS maintains a computer software package that interfaces commercial information-retrieval systems. The Computer Systems Information Network allows users to access seven major information-retrieval systems containing more than 250 data bases. The Computer Systems Information Network is an intelligent interface, one that is designed to translate a user's request for bibliographic, factual/numeric, or chemical identification information into the appropriate computer language for searching complex informationretrieval systems with a minimum of effort—and frustration—for the user.
USGS information scientists are continuing this research on methods for promoting easy access to complex, distributed data bases and information systems through the use of intelligent gateways like the Computer Systems Information Network.
Administrative and Facilities Support
Facilities Support of
For a scientific organization, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, the adequacy and availability of facilities are critical to the type and extent of research that can be conducted. It is difficult, for example, for hydrologic, geologic, and mapping field work teams to operate effectively when based in congested downtown locations. USGS reliance on large blocks of laboratory and other special-purpose space also creates special demands on facility support and program budgets. As a consequence, ongoing management efforts have focused on matching facilities to program needs within constrained budgets. Plans are for the USGS to assume greater facility management responsibilities over the next several years in order to contain costs and improve responsiveness to earth-science program needs.
The USGS has begun a number of actions to consolidate and improve facilities in concert with the General Services Administration (GSA), which provides over ninety percent of USGS-occupied space.
Central Region Headquarters,
Major consolidations at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood during the past 2 years have resulted in over 30 separate transactions that, including space acquisitions and releases, accounted for a shift of over 1 million square feet of space. Consolidations of geologic core library and map and publications distribution operations into the Center and the long-awaited relocation of Geologic Division laboratories
into a refurbished Building 20 were completed during the year. The new laboratory provides state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation housed in an equally modern facility with a full complement of optimum safety and design features.
Changing and expanding mission programs are also affecting USGS space needs:
• Automation of traditional cartographic production functions at the Rocky Mountain Mapping Center will require relocation to a 135,000-square-foot facility (one-third larger than the current location) that has a specialized structural design.
• Expansion of water-quality research programs at the USGS Central Laboratory at Arvada, Colorado, just outside of Denver, will require an additional 100,000 square feet of laboratory, storage, and office space.
Western Region Headquarters,
Top priority in regional planning has been reducing dependence on leased space by replacing space in Palo Alto with new laboratory and support facilities constructed at the Government-owned Center on Middlefield Road in Menlo Park. The Center was established on a 17-acre site in the mid-1950's. Buildings 1 and 2 on 5 acres of the site were acquired by GSA. The USGS acquired 12 acres of adjoining Government-owned land and constructed Building 3 on the site. USGS in collaboration with GSA and a professional services consultant developed a master plan and predesign program for completion of the Center.
Also dominant in the region's planning is movement toward an increased USGS role in the management of Center facilities, now a joint responsibility with GSA. Under
Photograph by Mark A. Hardy, U.S. Geological Survey
a delegation of authority from GSA, the USGS will assume direct management of facility operations and maintenance for GSA-owned buildings on the Center, and is pursuing other options with GSA to improve support services for these unique special-purpose scientific facilities.
National Center, Reston, Virginia
In August 1987, the USGS assumed responsibility from GSA for operation and maintenance of the National Center. This delegation from GSA involved the transfer of 19 employees and a budget of $4.2 million for operation and maintenance of the facility, which has over 1 million square feet of building space.
Continuing studies have been underway at various USGS centers to provide the best and most efficient facilities in which to carry out the current and future goals and objectives of the Survey's mission. Included in these efforts are programs to make working conditions safe and
healthy and to develop short- and longrange programs to correct any deteriorating and malfunctioning facilities and to replace obsolete facilities. Eliminating fire hazards and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions continues to be a priority. Special programs are also underway to design and implement aids for the handicapped. In keeping with its earth-science mission, the USGS is working to provide environmental controls at many of its facilities that eliminate pollution hazards. The Survey is also replacing and updating mechanical and electrical systems in existing facilities to reduce the use and loss of energy.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)
The 75th anniversary of the founding of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, America's first and oldest volcano observatory, was commemorated with the dedication of a new HVO building on January 10, 1987. The new HVO and renovated facility and the adjoining Thomas A. Jaggar Museum culminated a joint effort of the USGS and the National Park Service in planning, design, and construction.
The Observatory is operated by the U.S. Geological Survey and is located on the summit of Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawaii in Hawaii Volcanoes