Lessons Learned in over Two Decades of GPS/GNSS Data Center Support

Friday, 19 December 2014
Frances M Boler, Louis H Estey, Charles M Meertens and David Maggert, UNAVCO, Inc. Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States
The UNAVCO Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, curates, archives, and distributes geodesy data and products, mainly GPS/GNSS data from 3,000 permanent stations and 10,000 campaign sites around the globe. Although now having core support from NSF and NASA, the archive began around 1992 as a grass-roots effort of a few UNAVCO staff and community members to preserve data going back to 1986. Open access to this data is generally desired, but the Data Center in fact operates under an evolving suite of data access policies ranging from open access to nondisclosure for special cases. Key to processing this data is having the correct equipment metadata; reliably obtaining this metadata continues to be a challenge, in spite of modern cyberinfrastructure and tools, mostly due to human errors or lack of consistent operator training. New metadata problems surface when trying to design and publish modern Digital Object Identifiers for data sets where PIs, funding sources, and historical project names now need to be corrected and verified for data sets going back almost three decades. Originally, the data was GPS-only based on three signals on two carrier frequencies. Modern GNSS covers GPS modernization (three more signals and one additional carrier) as well as open signals and carriers of additional systems such as GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, and QZSS, requiring ongoing adaptive strategies to assess the quality of modern datasets. Also, new scientific uses of these data benefit from higher data rates than was needed for early tectonic applications. In addition, there has been a migration from episodic campaign sites (hence sparse data) to continuously operating stations (hence dense data) over the last two decades. All of these factors make it difficult to realistically plan even simple data center functions such as on-line storage capacity.