Think of Web Applications as being made up of three main components:
Standards-based (meaning the component adheres to standards of a guiding authority), open-source component projects are usually just one, or parts of one, of the three Web Application components. There are repository (Model) projects, user interface (View) pieces, and many processing tools (Controllers). All these parts must be put together to make a Web application, but this custom assembly provides almost total control of the outcome. Therefore, this outcome is much more closely targeted to the problem the user (customer) is trying to address. Extraneous, irrelevant features that confuse users can be eliminated. The advantage of working with an open-source project is that improvements are made by people around the world who add their unique talents and insights to build a more efficient and robust product.
Increasingly, natural resource management agencies are taking a systems and landscape approach to addressing natural resource issues, recognizing the interdependence of not only species, habitats, and other natural resources, but also the agencies charged with managing them. This means bringing together many agencies, components, and disciplines in order to see the “big picture” and to approach a given issue or set of issues from that larger perspective.
As managers and scientists in natural resource agencies grapple with increasingly complex and large-scale management and research efforts, massive amounts of data in many different locations, and additional reporting requirements, they need efficient, easy-to-use systems for finding, accessing, organizing, and providing data. They also need “space” for efficiently and securely collaborating with others and sharing these data, both within and across agencies.
To help meet these needs, the FORT Information Science Branch at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) provides significant expertise in information technology, management, and delivery. Within this branch, the Web Applications (“Apps”) Team works with scientists and managers to develop products and services that meet a broad range of data management, collaboration, and communication needs—moving us forward in our understanding and management of these complex natural resource issues.
The FORT Web Apps Team is a group of application software and systems specialists, programmers, business analysts, technical writers, and other IT specialists who design, develop, and deploy Web-based applications for natural resource scientists and managers. Clients and partners can use these products to collect, integrate, and report data on their science and management activities.
The Web Apps Team is part of the USGS–U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Joint Development Team (JDT). The JDT was formed by an interagency agreement between the USGS and the FWS that allows the bureaus to share contract staff and physical IT resources. This offers several advantages:
The Web Apps Team comprises federal employees and a large team of contract professionals from the JDT that directly support the USGS and its customers, including the U.S. Department of the Interior and several of its agencies (Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
The Web Apps Team specializes in putting together custom standards-based, open-source component projects to build applications that serve a specific science or management need (see “How We Work,” inset). This original work also involves building and supporting secure environments, including collaboration environments, where USGS scientists and partners can access and interact with distributed databases, files, and one another. The Team’s products fall into three overlapping and often interdependent categories of products and services:
Click on the links above to learn more about the Team’s work in these categories and find descriptions of example products.