Developing a Data Discovery Tool for Interdisciplinary Science: Leveraging a Web-based Mapping Application and Geosemantic Searching

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Shannon Edward Albeke1, Dylan G Perkins2, Samantha L Ewers1, Brent E Ewers3, W Steven Holbrook4 and Scott N Miller5, (1)University of Wyoming, Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center, Laramie, WY, United States, (2)University of Wyoming, Advanced Research Computing Center, Laramie, WY, United States, (3)University of Wyoming, Botany, Laramie, WY, United States, (4)University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States, (5)Univ Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
The sharing of data and results is paramount for advancing scientific research. The Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) is a multidisciplinary group that is driving scientific breakthroughs to help manage water resources in the Western United States. WyCEHG is mandated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to share their data. However, the infrastructure from which to share such diverse, complex and massive amounts of data did not exist within the University of Wyoming. We developed an innovative framework to meet the data organization, sharing, and discovery requirements of WyCEHG by integrating both open and closed source software, embedded metadata tags, semantic web technologies, and a web-mapping application. The infrastructure uses a Relational Database Management System as the foundation, providing a versatile platform to store, organize, and query myriad datasets, taking advantage of both structured and unstructured formats. Detailed metadata are fundamental to the utility of datasets. We tag data with Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI’s) to specify concepts with formal descriptions (i.e. semantic ontologies), thus allowing users the ability to search metadata based on the intended context rather than conventional keyword searches. Additionally, WyCEHG data are geographically referenced. Using the ArcGIS API for Javascript, we developed a web mapping application leveraging database-linked spatial data services, providing a means to visualize and spatially query available data in an intuitive map environment. Using server-side scripting (PHP), the mapping application, in conjunction with semantic search modules, dynamically communicates with the database and file system, providing access to available datasets. Our approach provides a flexible, comprehensive infrastructure from which to store and serve WyCEHG’s highly diverse research-based data. This framework has not only allowed WyCEHG to meet its data stewardship requirements, but can provide a template for others to follow.