2008-03-26: Community Air Quality Data Systems Telecon

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

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These minutes were sent by Joe Tikvart and are also available as a word doc.

Ad Hoc Advisory Committee -- Air Quality Data Summit
March 26, 2008, 2:00 – 3:00pm EDT
Conference Room C400A
Call-in 919-541-1590

Conference Call Meeting Notes

COMMITTEE MEMBERS, Attendees 3/26/08 bolded:

Rich Scheffe, Chair
Jeff Arnold
Phil Dickerson
Tim Dye
Jill Engel-cox
Stefan Falk
Dirk Felton
Neil Frank
Val Garcia
Mike Gilroy / Ken Knowle
Bryan Hubbell
Rudy Husar / Erin Robinson
Terry Keating
Bill Lamason
Sharon Leduc
Frank Lindsay
Phil Lorang
David McCabe
Shawn McClure
Nick Mangus
David Mintz
Rich Poirot
Betty Pun
Tesh Rao
Bret Schichtel
Uma Shankar
Doug Solomon
Louis Sweeny
Jim Szykman
Joe Tikvart
Gary Walter
Chet Wayland
Rob Willis
Steve Young


Wednesday, April 9, 2008 in Rm. C400A from 2:00 – 3:00pm EDT; call-in number is 919-541-1590. Conference call meetings are scheduled on a bi-weekly basis through April 2008. Topics for the next meeting include:

  • Review of assessment and vision statements placed on wiki
  • Carryover items from last call
    • Data and interface standards – Mangus, Dye, McCabe, Young
    • Status – UNC/NCState – NASA ROSES
    • Keating update on cyber-infrastructure RFA


An assessment of air quality data systems by Ross & Associates should be initiated with available resources. Goals of the assessment will be oriented to the interoperability of EPA air quality systems, in the context of various systems that exist in the rest of the community, e.g., VIEWS. Assessing all systems available to the community is not really feasible at this time. However, assessing EPA tools, in the context of other tools and upstream/downstream needs, appears to be a productive approach.


  • David Mintz will develop a preliminary description of the planned assessment by Ross & Associates; it is expected to be OAQPS-centric. See document available on wiki.
  • Rich is to provide input on a vision statement, also to be placed on the wiki; building a bridge to State/local systems is expected to be part of the longer term vision for the assessment.


Status of the HEI Database. Rich Scheffe (with the help of Betty Pun) began the meeting by clarifying the status of the AER/HEI data base. The contract with AER is scheduled to terminate at the end of CY 2008; during the intervening time period, two more rounds of data updates are planned. HEI is evaluating clients’ use of the data base and AER is helping clients transition to EPA data bases. Right now everything is “up-in-the-air”, with Betty as the conduit back to the user community.

Wiki updates. Rudy (Erin) described recent changes to the Air Quality Data Summit wiki. A connection to a new page titled “Community Air Quality Data System -- Follow on to AQ Data Summit” has been created. This is to provide a clear distinction between the data summit itself and post-summit activities (including a place for vision and goal statements). Rudy has seeded some ideas that address working toward an overarching strategy and vision that include interoperability and GEOSS. Other highlights associated with the CAQDS workspace that were noted in the discussion include: the inventory of databases/systems, the data system connectivity matrix, interoperability standards as addressed by GEOSS, and system strengths and weaknesses.

Resources for Assessment of Systems. With reference to the Community Air Quality Data Systems Strategy (previously circulated), Rich indicated that committee members had shown interest in “attributes”, that is item #5 (Desired features/attributes in data bases and systems). Resources for a contract arrangement with Ross & Associates (“Ross”) will be used to help in such an assessment of systems. The need for a desired future-state should be included as part of this assessment. What does it take to get systems to the desired-state? What systems currently exhibit the necessary attributes?

The assessment would focus on current EPA systems and their attributes relative to the desired future-state. Where there is waste and redundancy, better systems should be identified. Ownership and operation of systems also need to be addressed in meeting community needs. It is expected that David Mintz will coordinate the Ross assessment. One goal will be to “build a bridge” to insure that EPA systems work with external systems to test interoperability functions. However, a concern is that we need to look at what we have, as well as what we want. Is there too much emphasis on a federal perspective? How do State/local systems merge up with other systems? On the other hand, it was understood that EPA needs to take action with available resources. It needs to move on simple things with an action orientation, i.e., EPA  VIEWS. Eventually it will be possible to get to State/local needs, but the proposed Ross assessment is a necessary first step. A demonstration product like that resulting from the proposed assessment was thought to be good. Also, advances in information technology will facilitate this activity.

Other questions that need to be considered include how this will help a community of interoperable systems. It should include services decomposed into pieces. There should be more consistency in transformation, not just an expansion of VIEWS. Another view is that it is preferable to leverage the capability that VIEWS already has. Also, funding might be an issue, e.g., how do we get the 2002 base case CMAQ results out?

There is a concern that EPA seems to have already picked a winner, rather than getting something done and proving concepts. If assessment is limited to EPA systems, it may be too restrictive. However, there are not enough resources to consider all systems, thus the core EPA systems are addressed first. Other systems that need to be considered include HEI, VIEWS, ESIP, Giovanni; these might be addressed in a second step. Also, it was noted that cost effectiveness should be considered as part of the assessment, but we need to use resources efficiently. How do we make EPA systems efficient with other systems? The community might be invited to be part of the assessment.

In the end, it was noted that the idea of an assessment came from the AQ Data Summit. A brief description of the assessment is needed on the wiki. This should include a shared vision of where we are to go and desirable attributes of a future-state. David Mintz volunteered to develop an assessment skeleton, and to put this on the wiki; it is expected to be OAQPS-centric. Nevertheless, State/local interests and EPA interests should be the same, so that impacts on State/local interests are considered. Rich is to provide input on a vision statement. Building a bridge to State/local systems is expected to be part of the assessment.