National Geothermal Data System to provide data on open source basis

NGDS user testing (source: DOE GTO)
Alexander Richter 16 Jan 2014

In anticipation of the launch of the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS), the Geothermal Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy conducted user testings at the GRC Annual Meeting in October last year.

In anticipation of a Spring 2014 launch, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) conducted user testing of the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) at the Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting in early October. The Geothermal Energy Association’s concurrent Expo was the perfect venue to gain feedback on the user interface, for both data contributors of the NGDS and for its clients. Visitors from industry, research, and government sectors participated at the NGDS exhibit booth, and the NGDS design team received a solid day’s worth of input to help improve the overall functionality for data contribution and retrieval. User testing expert Dr. Sam Zheng, a Senior Research Scientist with Siemens Corporate Research of Princeton, New Jersey, also conducted similar user testing at the Stanford Workshop and at the GEA Expo, both in 2012.

Dr. Zheng led participants through a demo of the central portal as well as a local test of Node-in-a-Box (NIAB) software to facilitate data submission on the USGIN website. [1] Test scenarios evaluated map, library, and faceted searches; user ratings; resources; and tools, such as pages on how to contribute or submit data sets. According to Dr. Zheng, the new data system “received considerable positive feedback and suggestions,” which have already been discussed with the development team and are currently being assessed and integrated into the ongoing NGDS development. Lead Software Engineer Christoph Kuhmuench, at SCR, works closely with the Arizona Geological Survey team, led by chief architect Stephen Richard, to design the back end of the data system. The design team continues its hard work to ensure that data provided by geothermal nodes around the country will be interoperable and useful when the system is deployed later this year.

Open Data Policy

Through the Obama Administration’s Open Data Policy, [2] federal agencies, including the Energy Department, are working to facilitate high-quality access, discovery, and use of federally managed information. The NGDS is already granting free and open access to continuously updated geoscience technical information and tools. The system conforms to the U.S. Geosciences Information Network (USGIN) specifications, which are a relevant national standard for data elements aiding in the discovery of easily accessible and usable data content. In addition, the Energy Department is boosting open access to federally funded scientific research [3] by way of the Geothermal Data Repository (GDR), the Energy Department’s node on the NGDS.

DOE’s Own Node on the NGDS

Since going live in March 2012, the Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) has received submissions from nearly 60 funds recipients. Project data providers are leading the way to make results from federally funded research, development, and demonstration projects easily accessible to students, researchers and consumers. The Energy Department’s national laboratories and geothermal developers such as RAM Power and AltaRock Energy have made significant contributions already. For example, a National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) node developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), leverages existing platforms — such as OpenEI — to provide a secure, searchable catalog of data submissions from lab-scale, field-tested, and operating geothermal energy projects.

In conjunction with the state geological surveys, the NGDS links thousands of databases, directories, and 85,000+ geologic maps that collectively constitute a national geoscience data “backbone” for research and practical applications. In addition, NGDS will supply data from the nation’s leading academic geothermal centers, the geothermal industry, and a variety of federal agencies, including research from more than 200 projects funded by $300 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

As the NGDS readies for deployment this spring, final improvements should yield a powerful tool to help overcome one of industry’s greatest barriers to geothermal development—the lack of quantifiable, technical data in the subsurface. Watch for an article in the next issue regarding the NGDS launch.

Sources/ Links:
[1] usgin website

[2] Open Data Policy

[3] Increasing Public Access to the Results of Scientific Research

Article provided by DOE