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Assembling the team (roles and expertise)

Roles within a team establishing and maintaining an environmental sensor network:

  • Scientist - determines the type of data and sampling frequency needed to answer the scientific questions within budget limitations.
  • Sensor system expert - knows the types of sensors and platforms, their installation and programming needed to answer scientific questions. Is familiar with specific climate and terrain issues and QA/QC approaches in the field.
  • Field logistics expert (for major site construction) - familiarity with transport, construction, weather, tools, and supplies for construction
  • Field construction and fabrication expert - understands concrete, metal structure, tower design, fencing, underwater anchors, floating devices, load estimates
  • Field workers/assistants - many people are needed for remote construction tasks, sensor wiring, initial site setup, cable management
  • Field technician - familiar with maintenance tasks including minor repairs, maintaining a calibration schedule, other regular sensor maintenance tasks. Field technicians need to have a good understanding of the science application and the end user, they need to be comfortable with technology, and applying knowledge from one area to another, have creative problem solving and critical thinking skills and pay attention to detail. They should have basic electrical and mechanical knowledge (e.g., multimeter use, basic equipment installation, repair and programming). Depending on site conditions they also need to be certified in tower/rock/tree climbing, boat handling, SCUBA diving, respective safety training, and enjoy skiing, hiking, off-road driving etc. plus need to be skilled in GPS orienteering, navigation, and basic map making.
  • Communications/data transport expert / Licensed Commercial radio operator (ideal, but not required) - needs to be familiar with moving digital data over wired or wireless networks from remote points to project servers and should have basic knowledge of radio communication (e.g., technician-level amateur radio license, basic antenna theory, IP networking)
  • Network administrator / System administrator - is responsible for network architecture, redundancy of systems from data center to field sites, backup, data security
  • Software developer - skills in preferred programming language
  • Data manager - needs to be familiar with means of documenting procedures for maintaining communication between all roles involved, specifically, means for documenting field events and their ramification for the data quality. Needs to know approaches/software for managing high frequency streaming data, standard QA/QC routines for such data, approaches to documenting data provenance and data archiving (space requirements, backup, storage of different Q/C levels) and have database/software package programming/configuration expertise
  • Data technician - needs to be thorough and reliable during tasks like ‘eye on’ quality control, manual data entry etc.