A number of state and federal agencies are developing Geotechnical Databases which may be queried for information used for maintenance of existing projects as well as design, construction, etc. of nearby projects. Unfortunately, through the lack of a standard data definition for Geotechnical data, there exists significant difficulty in archiving, reusing and sharing data. This problem has been exacerbated with the dependence on computer software as the standard for design, construction, and maintenance of new and existing infrastructure projects. For instance, numerous computer programs have been developed to electronically collect and present geotechnical in-situ data by hardware manufacturers (i.e. CPT, PMT, etc.), as well as borehole/boring logs or fence diagrams. However, each software suite has developed its own data needs and formats. Some commonality exists in the definition of data through the use of standards such as ASTM, AASHTO, ANSI and others. However, some state DOTs and federal agencies, as well as software vendors may have adopted variations of the standards. In order to collect, view, and share geotechnical data there is a great need to establish a Geotechnical Data Dictionary from which a national standard XML (GML compliant) data interchange format schema may be established. The establishment of standards for the development of geotechnical management systems will provide the means for state DOTs to efficiently capture, store, retrieve, and share geotechnical data and information internally as well as with external agencies and user groups. The standards will also provide the means for IT departments and software developers to build components or modules for geotechnical management systems that would meet each state DOTs needs and be compatible with other modules developed by other software providers. These standards will reduce each States time and cost involving software development, maintenance, and updates. In addition, the standards, if adopted by other local, state and federal agencies, would provide the means to electronically share geotechnical data obtained by other sources near DOT highway projects.
A first step in this process is to survey state and federal agencies and their consultants to define their geotechnical field and laboratory testing practices and the types of geotechnical data that they collect, archive and reuse through a web based survey method. Specifically of interest is the type of field and laboratory tests that are routinely performed, associated data collected, as well as metadata (data describing data: type of equipment, etc). Also of concern is the uniformity of testing practices (i.e. ASTM, AASHTO, etc.), and description of the data (e.g. soil classification, strengths, etc.). The survey will cover data at the dictionary level and will require very detailed and specific information. From the survey information, develop a consensus of data definitions to be accepted in the standard schema. The data dictionary specifies the meaning of the terms used in the data base.
The second objective involves the development of an open and flexible XML (GML compliant) based data structure and data dictionary geotechnical management systems. The data structure will define the form and content (alpha or numeric) of the data, the precision, the units, the field size, the type of data acquired, other data attributes, and the relationships between the attributes.
Scope of Work
The survey and schema development will be a collaborative effort by a core team consisting of technical representatives from the University of Florida, Department of Civil Engineering (UF), Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists in the United Kingdom (AGS), and the Consortium of Organizations for Strong-Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS). Oversight of development by the core team will be provided by the Geotechnical Data Coalition with representation from UF, AGS, COSMOS, Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). A Geotechnical Management System Group (GMS group) composed of representatives from 12 State DOTs, FHWA, US EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Geological Survey has been formed to govern the development of the standards for all geotechnical data and to provide all final decisions for this project.
The UF group has developed a data dictionary, database and XML exchange format for the Florida DOT that allows web based sharing of geotechnical laboratory test data, classification data, in-situ test data and as-built construction data. The AGS membership is comprised of UK organizations and individuals having a common interest in the business of site investigation, geotechnics, geoenvironmental engineering, engineering geology, geochemistry, hydrogeology, and other related disciplines. AGS has a flat file exchange format that has been used for 14 years in the UK, Europe and Asia which handles geotechnical field data, lab data, and chemical and hydrological data. They also have a draft standard for an XML version that is GML compliant. COSMOS has developed a data dictionary and a virtual data center for sharing borehole data on the internet, as well as an ongoing project on geotechnical lab data.
A survey of information needs will be developed by the core team in close cooperation with the GMS group. The survey will cover basic demographic data, methods of collection, and specific data needs. The survey will be sent to a wide group of stakeholders that use Geotechnical data including state and federal agencies, civil software developer/vendors, consulting and design firms as well as others specified with the help of the GMS group.
The Geotechnical Data Field and Laboratory Data survey is the most difficult and time consuming part of the standards development. The survey will identify the types of tests and hardware, as well as data description necessary for the development of a data dictionary. Consequently, it is envisioned that over half the effort will occur in this phase compared to the development of a final data dictionary and XML (GML compliant) schema. The results of the survey will be used as the data requirements and definitions for defining a standard schema.
The contents of the survey will be developed by a small core team. A draft version will be created by the core team by merging all the data definitions found in the UF system, AGS, COSMOS and the Army Corps of Engineers and COSMOS survey results. The draft will be a prototype data dictionary merging the existing dictionaries and any determined missing data. The draft version of the survey will be presented to the GMS group and refined based on their input.
The survey will also ask questions about metadata for equipment, location, contractor/person etc., as well as general questions about Geohazard and Geotechnical asset inventory and condition data to prepare for a further phase in defining a dictionary for that data. The final data dictionary delivered from this project may or may not include Geohazard and asset condition information. The determination will be based upon the amount of time required to develop them which will largely depend upon whether sufficiently refined data definitions exist for this data.
Bridges, Other Structures, and Hydraulics and Hydrology
Soils, Geology, and Foundations