Network Office holds workshop on software tools for sensor networks

In early May, the LTER Network Office organized a training workshop on “Software tools for Sensor Networks” that was attended by 24 trainees, 10 trainers and speakers, and a diverse mix of researchers, graduate students, information managers, and other skilled professionals.

The training was cost-shared among the LTER Network Office, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis’s (NCEAS) Kepler REAP Project, and DataONE.

The workshop was prompted by the results of a survey during last October’s SensorNIS Workshop at Hubbard Brook LTER, NH, which indicated that a great diversity of new research questions could be addressed with sensor data streams, but that lack of technical and software expertise was a major factor limiting sensor deployment. Only 15 percent of respondents indicated that their site sensor system met their needs, while the majority of respondents indicated that future training on software tools and collaboration on tool development were important next steps. Therefore, demand for this workshop was extremely high and over 70 applications were received. Participants were selected to maximize the number of institutions and LTER sites represented, and selections favored sites that were already actively developing sensor networks and looking to share or adopt technological solutions for establishing and managing these networks.

The goal of the workshop was to promote best practices for sensor management and provide hands-on training in the use of existing tools and software. The workshop was designed to introduce several options for managing sensor data, particularly the transport and quality assurance and control of source data logger files into raw and provisional storage formats. Trainers Michael Nekrasov and Sameer Tilak of San Diego Supercomputing Center led hands-on exercises focused on open source software using the Open Source DataTurbine; Matt Jones and Derik Barseghian of NCEAS and John Porter of VCR led exercises on the Kepler Workflow System with R; and Jeff Horsburgh (CUAHSI, the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.) and Corinna Gries (NTL) led exercises on CUAHSI's Observation Data Model to capture, control quality, and archive the data.

Additionally, Wade Sheldon (GCE) demonstrated the GCE Toolbox, Jeff Taylor (NEON) introduced participants to the NEON project, and Don Henshaw (AND) made a presentation on the general requirements for managing sensors.

Initial reactions from participants were very favorable. Ultimately, it is hoped that this training will stimulate collaborative efforts to share, adopt or develop common approaches and systems for managing sensor data. A list of the workshop participants, agenda, and presentations are available at http://im.lternet.edu/node/998.

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