What is a Resource on SAFER-Data?
When using SAFER-Data you will encounter the term resource many times during your visit. The concept of a resource is very important to understanding how SAFER-Data manages the environmental research data and information output from the EPA's Environmental Research programmes.
On SAFER-Data a resource can be thought of as a composite object - it is the combination of metadata (simple text-based information about a project or dataset) and the actual datasets and/or other information. Put simply metadata + digital data or digital information = a resource. At its minimal definition a resource contains only metadata. Consequently datasets and other digital information objects may be added to this resource at a later stage.
Metadata describes who owns or created the resource, why the resource was created and why it is important, where geographically the resource study area is located, when the project respresented by the resource was in operation or was actively collecting or analysing information, and what the key outputs and deliverables area.
What is digital data or digital information on SAFER-Data
In the broad field of environmental research every project funded by the EPA is different in some way. Maybe some projects are carrying out field-based measurements, others carrying out simulations on computers, others working in lab-based environments, desk-based studies, etc. Every project produces different out. Some projects may output datasets - that is actual measurements of some environmental variable captured in the field, lab, or simulations. Other projects may output reports which synthesis information and data from other studies in the area. Some projects may output cartographical data and maps using GIS. In short there are many different outputs and it is easier to refer to these as digital datasets or digital information than to use their full technical descriptions. The types of digital data or digital information found on SAFER-Data include:
- datasets: actual measurements of some environmental variable captured in the field, lab, or simulations
- reports: thesis, discussion documents, synthesis reports, end of project reports, commentary, literature reviews, user manuals, standard operating procedures etc.
- software for analysing environmental research data: software code, software libaries, simulation models expressed in software
- imagery: photographs, simulated imagery, remotely sensed images, aerial photography,etc
- cartographical output or GIS output: GIS map layers, datasets with geographical objects and geographical coordinates, electronic maps
What does resource availability mean on SAFER-Data
Traditionally on web-based systems providing digital data or other digital objects for download there are two means by which a visitor to that web system can download files. The first way is that the files are publicly available and may be downloaded by anyone. The second way is by using authentication whereby a visitor must first logon to that web system before they can download any or certain files.
The approach to providing digital data or digital information for download using SAFER-Data is similiar but exhibits some minor differences. When a researcher or data provider creates a resource on SAFER-Data - that is creates metadata - they must specify the public availability of this resource. There are 3 levels of public availability on SAFER-Data. A researcher or data provider may choose one of the following:
- Fully Publicly Available: In this case any digital data or digital information objects attached to this resource can be downloaded by anyone who visits SAFER-Data. This is a full and open access. The IP address of the visitor downloading these data is logged in a backend database.
- Semi Publicly Available: In this case any digital data or digital information objects attached to this resource are hidden from public access. Only metadata is visible to the public. The digital data or digital information objects can only be accessed by the owner of the resource and SAFER-Data administrators. Semi Publicly Availability status is only permitted on a resource for a period of 12 months. After this time the resource automatically becomes fully publicly available
- Private Status: In this case both the metadata nor the digital data or digital information objects (the entire resource) are available for public access and can only be accessed by the owner of the resource and SAFER-Data administrators. The use of private status for resources on SAFER-Data for extended periods of time is not permitted.Essentially private status is only used in cases where resources must be verified by several parties before semi-public or fully-public availability status is assigned to the resource.