The QUEST Data Management Tool is a database developed by the West Virginia Water Research Institute and the West Virginia University Office of Information Technology. The DMT serves as a platform for the collection of data and, perhaps more importantly, provides a way for groups to manage and share their data.
Some of the key features of the QUEST DMT include:
FREE– The QUEST DMT is free to any participating citizen group, school or university, or individual in the upper Ohio River Basin that would like to use the tool to help manage water quality data! Data being entered into the QUEST DMT is housed in a secure database and shared with other participating members. That data is also displayed on the 3 Rivers QUEST Data Map to help provide a better picture of overall health of the Upper Ohio River Basin to the general public.
Secure Database– The QUEST DMT resides on a server at West Virginia University but is easily accessed from the 3RQ website. As such, the DMT follows the same security protocols and requires a user name and password, which will be assigned to you by WVU. Accessing it from the website provides individuals with the ability to log in and enter data for their sites. Individual users can only enter and view data for sites in their respective group (i.e. John Doe can only enter data at sites for his watershed group).
Data Management – Data management tools within the 3RQ database serve to condense, simplify and interpret the large amount of data produced by datalogger monitoring. Automatic calculations, such as like daily averages, daily maximums, daily variations and total averages, speed up and simplify queries of very large amounts of data. Individual users can enter and export data in several forms (e.g. as an excel spreadsheet).
The datalogger upload tool comes in two versions and provides users with the ability to create/manage logger profiles, upload large data-sets from single or multiple sites and use their data. Single data logger sites are uploaded using the Data Logger Import tool, and a Multi-Site Import tool has been developed that allows volunteers to upload entire spreadsheets of field and analytical data for multiple sites at one time. Physical sampling data, including visual surveys, field chemical data and other parameters, is entered on the Field Summary Form and can also be easily retrieved in several forms.
Quality Assurance/Quality Control – Range values have been set for data entries (e.g. entering a pH of 27.0 will return an error message). Also, users are asked to verify their entries before submitting the form. These features are designed to reduce data entry errors and provide users with self-checking tools to ensure a high level of data integrity.
Data visualization – Several helpful tools have been designed that summarize data and make it easier to identify changes in water quality – both over time and sudden spikes which could indicate possible contamination events or areas of concern.
- The Online data map provides the ability to see the site locations of all members. Some data is displayed in drop-down text boxes for each site but coordinates for site locations are not displayed on the QUEST Data Map to ensure confidentiality for groups who may not want their site information displayed. To further ensure site information remains confidential on the QUEST Data Map, sites will “disappear” from the map once a certain zoom-in threshold is reached.
- Reporting tools have been developed and can be found on the database landing page. There are separate tools for physical sampling sites and logger sites, which display the different data collected. For example, a Field Summary can be generated within minutes for each individual physical sampling site. The data dashboard allows volunteers to see their data in automatically generated graphs and figures each time they visit the 3RQ site, in addition to the existing data storage and mapping tools.