Servoy Maps Out the Future for USGSIndustry: Environmental Science
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) – part of the Department of Interior – is the nation's largest water, earth, biological science and civilian mapping agency. The USGS collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. Every day the 10,000 scientists, technicians, and support staff of the USGS work in more than 400 locations throughout the United States.
Download the USGS Success Story in PDF format.
As part of a project to develop a 3D geologic model of the Los Angeles Basin, scientists at USGS needed to create and maintain a comprehensive database to catalog and store various kinds of subsurface information collected from thousands of water wells, oil wells and other borings that have been drilled in the area over the last 75 years. Much of these data are scattered throughout the numerous municipal agencies and oil companies that serve the region. Some of these data reside in separate database systems, but most are disorganized or exist only in paper files. The USGS project needed to gather and integrate these data into one location, and make it accessible to researchers in forms that could be readily input into various kinds of data analysis and geologic modeling packages.
"To properly input, manage, and retrieve these borehole data, we needed to develop a database application with very complex business logic", said Research Geologist, Dr. Daniel Ponti, who is the leader of the overall project. "Commercial systems exist to integrate GIS functionality into a complex database, but they are expensive and would require considerable development time. Our project had a very limited budget, and more importantly, very limited staff. So we began looking for a way to meet our needs by using productive software and leveraging open-source technologies as much as possible."
Dr. Ponti's project had developed other applications in the past using FileMaker. They liked how easy it was to develop capable solutions with this product, but because of some of FileMaker's limitations, and its inability to integrate easily with other applications, it was obvious that FileMaker couldn't be used for this task. Dr. Ponti’s team needed to work with an enterprise-level SQL database, but doing so raised questions within the project as to the time and effort required to develop against such a database.
The USGS chose Servoy to handle both the business logic of their borehole repository solution, as well as to serve as a container for a fully functional map interface that they developed in Java. The backend database is PostgreSQL with PostGIS extensions to enable a whole array of spatial querying functions. For the drawing of the maps, the USGS developed a Servoy module that contains Java beans that link to open-source map servers: a WMS map server (MapServer) to serve raster images and a WFS server (GeoServer), to serve vector features that are stored in the PostgreSQL database. The connection between the map interface and the database is handled by Servoy. Any selection on the map can result in data from the database being returned in a Servoy form; conversely, both the found set and current record displayed in the Servoy solution are automatically symbolized in the map pane. The application offers powerful ways to search through geologic data both through advanced text searching and spatial query algorithms as well as by using the map to visually click on certain regions to find out more about specific features.
"Using Servoy, we were able to accomplish our goal of developing a map-based data repository solution for little cost and with minimal development time." said Ponti, "Servoy's rapid development environment coupled with its extensibility, provided us with the tools we needed to accomplish this task in an efficient manner. We were also impressed by the responsiveness of Servoy's support team to both answer our questions during development, as well as to provide rapid bug fixes and needed enhancements to the product."
This application is for browsing (and editing for privileged users) geotechnical borehole data (Oil, water and research wells) of southern California. This includes a GIS data viewer that can load data, both image and vector, through the Servoy plugin architecture.
- Handles complex business logic and serves as a container for a Java map interface.
- Enables an array of spatial querying functions.
- Module links to open-source map servers.
- Application offers powerful ways to search through geologic data.
"Servoy's rapid development environment coupled with its extensibility, provided us with the tools we needed to accomplish this task in an efficient manner. We were also impressed by the responsiveness of Servoy's support team to both answer our questions during development, as well as to provide rapid bug fixes and needed enhancements to the product."
-- Dr. Daniel Ponti, Research Geologist, USGS