Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Final Post

1.   Introductory Product Information

Soils-to-Satellites (S2S)

The tool brings disparate and diverse datasets together into an easy-to-use interface that enables visualisation and comparison. These datasets include ecological and genomics data collected through TERN’s Multi-Scale Plot Network and delivered through Eco-informatics’ Australian Ecological Knowledge and Observation System (ÆKOS), remote sensing datasets available through AusCover, alongside the spatial and biodiversity information available via the ALA.

S2S now enables researchers to explore and display the relationships between these diverse data sets in ways not previously experienced in a single application. For example, users of the tool can display layers of Australian environmental data such as elevation, temperature or soil type, and then ‘drill down’ to view and explore rich ecological and genomics data across those layers.

2.   Instructional Product Information

"Through AusPlots and the Australian Transect Network, we've now surveyed around 300 plots, which represents a wealth of ecological data that we hope will support scientists and managers across Australia. Our data is undeniably valuable, and represents thousands of man hours in some very inaccessible environments. But trying to show potential users the scope of the data we've collected and how it can be combined for useful analysis can be a real challenge. The ability of Soils to Satellites to display and combine the data we've collected in real time, from biomolecular sequences to landforms, allows users to do just that, and make sure that our data is used by others, to the maximum benefit of scientists and the community."
          Stefan Caddy-Retalic
               Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN)

"Soils to satellites allows to me explore large and complex data sets in a meaningful and dynamic way. As we move towards greater levels of data sharing and maximisation of initial investment in data collection, projects like Soils to Satellites become increasingly important tools that allow us to navigate the wealth of existing data, assess its usefulness and fitness for repurposing, and ultimately access the raw data and all the associated contextual information. Without efficient and intuitive ways to explore the relationships between existing data sets at a range of scales, such as those provided through Soils to Satellites, we will not be able to take full advantage of the considerable scientific knowledge base we have at our finger tips. The intuitive navigation allows me to easily visualise trends in the data that would otherwise be extremely difficult and time consuming to consider, furthermore, results are presented in such a way that novel associations can present themselves – helping to stimulate new ways to think about ecological associations and identification of genuine and interesting knowledge gaps where new research can be focussed."
          Eleanor Dormontt
               Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN)

"Working in projects which collect lots of data, it’s easy to lose sight of where and how the data will be used. As someone who is generating this data in the field, Soils to Satellites represents a major step forward in making sure that the data I collect will be used by others. By providing different ways of visualising complex data, scientists and land managers can understand the relationships between that data in a simple way. This means that data that might otherwise gather dust in an obscure database is available in a simple format for everyone to access. For example, previously labour-intensive comparisons – say between vegetation community structure and soil characteristics (like pH and salt content) are easy, either at a local or continental scale.

The Soils to Satellites tool is also important in fostering the continuing relationship between the scientific community and those who grant us access to their land. By allowing land managers to visualise the data shortly after we’ve collected it and see how it fits in to a bigger picture, it’s easy for us to show the value of the work. It can also help landowners to manage their lands, whether to maximise agricultural productivity, ensure strong conservation outcomes, or a mix of both.

Soils to Satellites will only increase in usefulness as a tool as more data becomes available. Information on soil metagenomics, population genetics and leaf area index will build on the current platform to make soils to satellites an indispensable tool for ecologists and land managers alike."
           Emrys Leitch
               Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN)

2.2 Links to the actual product

2.3 Source code

2.4 User Guide

3.   Product (or Product Components) Re-usability Information

The Soils to Satellite application provides a service to researchers, that further represents the potential of integrating major research infrastructure.  Data available from TERN Eco-informatics' ÆKOS data portal (raw ecological data) and the Atlas of Living Australia (biodiversity data and spatial products) can be searched, displayed and visualised thanks to an alliance of data custodians who publish their data and products.

Any data downloaded from SoilsToSatellites can then be re-used outside of the system by ecologically focused researchers

4.   Contextual Product Information

4.1 Licensing of final product
  1. SoilsToSatellites is available under Mozilla Public Licence v1.1
  2. The data downloadable from the application is licenced through

Creative Common By Attribution (CC-BY) Copyright Licence v3.0. This licence lets others distribute, remix and build upon a work, even commercially, as long as they credit the original creator/s (and any other nominated parties)

4.2 Sustainability
  1. All the software and data components will be located on NeCTAR infrastructure, initially within the University of Melbourne and then with eResearchSA at the Adelaide node of NeCTAR.
  2. The SoilsToSatellites portal will be maintained in the public domain for 12 months by TERN Eco-informatics and ALA, with support from NeCTAR.
  3. New data will be added to SoilsToSatellites by TERN Eco-informatics staff.

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