important ecodb concepts
Establishing the ecodb license is the starting point. You most likely will want to use the complimentary ‘evaluation license’ to explore the ecodb functionality for up to two weeks. Then select an ecodb license that is appropriate to your needs and that of your organization. Refer to 'Licenses and Prices' for a description of various ecodb license constraints and pricing. Also review the ‘communities’ tab on this web site to review our recommendations of license type for your situation; and if still in doubt then drop us an email describing your needs and we will respond with our recommendations.
Note that the ‘evaluation license’ will not allow posting to the public domain, but you can do just about anything else. After two weeks, the evaluation license and any associated data will be deleted. Some of our license types allow many sub-accounts which are used for team based work.
This is an important role as this person has control of the ecodb license, and any sub-accounts. Consequently they have ultimate control over the data that is owned by the ecodb license, and as such they have control over what is deleted or posted to the Public Domain.
The license administrator also controls payment terms, and is able to activate any third party sponsorship of the ecodb license.
Central to ecodb is the concept of the ‘data collection unit’ (DCU). All data sets belong to at least one DCU, and a DCU can potentially have many data sets. Think of the DCU as the location of your instruments, whether it is a simple pole in the river bed, or a sophisticated telemetry device that collects a variety of data, a Community Health office with vaccination rates, community disease outbreaks, or high school graduation rates for a community, or other socio-economic indicators.
Each DCU may have an emissions permit and/or an environmental project associated with it. As such an emissions permit or environmental project may potentially be associated with a large number of DCU that you want to monitor with your ecodb license.
Each DCU has location information, and potentially have a number of data sets associated with it.
A data set is a series of data measurements over time, i.e. a time series. It is comprised of a ‘parameter’ that is being measured, and a ‘unit of measurement’.
A series of sites for monitoring can be rapidly established, with standard pre-defined parameters to monitor against with anticipated data ranges for data reasonableness tests, which can subsequently be added, modified or deleted for individual sites. Additional reports are provided to enable project wide rapid review of multiple site inconsistences; as well as data publication state.
Site observation data can be entered in addition to the values for the range of parameters to be monitored against for each individual site. All site observation and data values can be subsequently edited.
A parameter is what is being measured by your data set. Examples of parameters are ‘water temperature’, ‘dissolved oxygen’, ‘carbon dioxide’, ‘e-coli’.
To assist in standardization and potential data sharing, ecodb provides various parameters to select from. These parameters are also grouped into categories for ease of search and selection, e.g. if you wanted to monitor a hazardous air pollutant (HAP), then look in the category of HAP codes to select the parameter that you wish to monitor. Similarly, if you want to monitor the health of a stream, you may want to look for common parameters to measure within the category for ‘volunteer stream flow monitors’.
A parameter to monitor may belong to a number of categories, and we are adding new categories and parameters continually. If you do not find the parameter that you want, and you believe that many others will have the same requirement, then please contact us to establish this as a standard parameter. If your parameter is unique to your requirements then you may establish your own parameter within ecodb that only you can access.
All data sets require that you select a measurement unit. Similar to parameters, we have established common units of measurement for you to select from. And for ease of search we have grouped them into one or more categories, e.g. length, temperature, etc.
If you do not find the measurement unit that you want, and you believe that many others will have the same requirement, then please contact us to establish this as a standard unit of measurement. If your measurement unit is unique to your requirements then you may establish your own measurement unit within ecodb that only you can access.
If your data set has a non-standard unit of measurement then you may not be able to readily share your data within the public domain (as the data set will then be meaningless to the general public); however you may still be able to download and share with other like-minded people who understand your metrics.
This is one of the most interesting and sophisticated aspects of ecodb.
We have established a number of common calibration relationships within ecodb. For example, you may want to convert a data set of measurements in Fahrenheit into Centigrade measurements. Ecodb allows the user to select that calibration relationship and then re-calibrate and/or convert your data sets into a copy identified by the calibration relationship, i.e. you do not lose the original data set.
Another example is in measuring the electrical conductivity at the DCU. This can then be re-calibrated into a ‘salinity’ parameter measurement. In this example both the parameter being measured, electrical conductivity, and its units of measurement (probably milliamps) are being converted into another data set of a series of measurements of a different parameter, i.e. salinity, with its own appropriate measurement unit (such as micro-Siemens per cm).
And yes, ecodb inhibits conversions that are inappropriate, unless the calibration relationship has been specifically defined and is used as a proxy as in the example above where conductivity measurement is a proxy for salinity measurement.
‘Raw data’ is ‘un-calibrated’ data as far as ecodb is concerned. This is not necessarily a problem as raw data can often be the most valuable data.
For the mathematically inclined, our calibration relationships are comprised of polynomials to the third power. If you require greater sophistication then contact us and we will expand this to higher powers.
This refers to the range over which the calibration relationship is valid. For example, clearly a conversion of temperature measurements is not valid below absolute zero and would be out of range.
A calibration relationship may be discontinuous, meaning that a different calibration relationship is valid for different ranges of the parameter being measured. An example would be measuring stream flow where there is a relationship with the depth of water (the parameter being measured) at a pole (the DCU) and the profile of the river bed and flood plain. The calibration relationship that determines the volume of water in the stream will vary with the depth of the water at a pole, and this relationship will usually be of a discontinuous nature as streams and rivers do not usually have a uniform profile such being the vagaries of nature.
If the ‘rate of flow’ data set is known at that DCU (an example of two raw data sets generated at the DCU, either of which may be re-calibrated further), then a data set of higher value can be generated. For example, ‘stream flow at the DCU’ can be calculated by using ecodb to multiply these two compatible data sets together, i.e. rate of flow multiplied by volume, then the stream flow will then be known. This generated data set is often defined as being directly related to the amount of water moving off the watershed into the stream channel.
Defining your own calibration relationships, and the range over which the relationship is valid, allows the ecodb user to generate sophisticated data sets of higher value based on a combination of raw and generated data set inputs.
This has been discussed above, but it deserves additional comment.
Ecodb strives to be standards based. This is so that users can potentially share their data and allow other users to understand what is being measured and with a defined measurement unit; but also to improve the productivity of using ecodb by allowing ease of selection of parameters and measurement units, and to this end we also provide standard calibration relationships.
We recognize that you may have special needs, particularly when a data set re-calibration is required. For this reason we provide the ability to create your own user-defined definitions. Many will want at least their calibration relationships to remain confidential or proprietary, and so these user-defined calibration relationships are not available to other users.
Help us to help you by requesting us to define standards that we may have overlooked.
A data collection unit (DCU) can belong to an environmental project and/or an emissions permit, or both. There will be instances when a project will involve both an environmental project as well as a plant emissions permit.
If you have obtained the data set from elsewhere, such as the ecodb Public Domain, then you may want to define it as part of your own e-project or emissions permit, or not have it assigned at all as you may want to manipulate the acquired data set first.
Currently datum can be entered discretely into ecodb, as well as through a spreadsheet file import facility.
Shortly we will be adding a data transfer facility where data from one ecodb license holder can be transferred to another using the ecodb supported Public Domain as the intermediary. In such instances, the identification of the original data set author will be embedded within the data set and carried with it.
The following are the current data export functions within ecodb, all with identification of parameters and measurement units, as well as screen based versions:
Shortly we will also be adding licensee-to-licensee transfer.
As inferred, access to data sets that have been published to the ecodb supported Public Domain are free to access and download.
We urge you to list your data sets to the Public Domain for the ‘public good’. Thank you. Only your ecodb license Administrator has this power, and the task is a simple data set selection which can be revoked at any time.
The public then has the ability to download the data set and to obtain information concerning the project which the data set belongs to, such as any social media links that you provide, which in turn may have photographs of your project location and team. We recommend that you view examples of published data sets prior to publishing your own data sets.
All data sets identify your ‘quality assurance’ rating for that individual data set. Our next release of ecodb will also allow the identification and viewing of the of quality certification for each data set; with the certification preferably from an independent or accredited third party.
Within ecodb all of your data sets are sorted and displayed for your selection. The data search facility refers to searching the ecodb supported Public Domain for data sets of interest.
We have built in a variety of pre-defined filters to assist your search, e.g. search by country, parameter etc. And the results of a search can be displayed within a grid (that in turn can be sorted) or via a Google map identifying the locations of the filtered data sets. Cool! The results can be displayed on screen, and then can be downloaded in a variety of formats.
Currently the data set can also be downloaded as a spreadsheet; which can then potentially be uploaded into your ecodb license. Shortly we will provide a facility to import the selected data set directly into your ecodb license, i.e. license-to-license transfer.
Initially we are providing the facility for third party sponsors to offer to fund all or part of your project. These sponsors may have various conditions, e.g. they may request that data be collected in support of a cause (e.g. cancer or Malaria ’hot spots’); or a sponsor may require that an e-project be undertaken to collect specific data in a defined geographic location.
In the future, we expect that sponsorships will be provided that also offer equipment, and also cover other project costs and fees.