Database 10g Is Crucial to EPAs Missions

The EPA's Superfund unit is leveraging the Oracle platform's storage and querying options for a growing range of tasks.

Running Oracle Corp.s Database 10g on hardware ranging from high-end workstations to field workers laptop PCs, the Region 5 Superfund Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is integrating terabytes of images and measurements into efficient, comprehensive support tools for a growing range of tasks.

Whether theyre analyzing pollution or developing responses to possible terrorist attacks, EPA analysts praise Database 10gs openness to standards-based application development as the Chicago-based Region 5 Superfund Division expands its capabilities in the office and the field.

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Region 5 Superfund Division staff members said the expanded image data storage and querying options on the 10g platform are crucial to their growing list of missions.

"The application that were working on will really open peoples eyes to what this stuff can do for you," said Brian Cooper, Region 5 Superfund Division technical manager. "Our Rapid Assessment Tools application, in any emergency, aids collection of data in the field and also has data that can be helpful, such as locations of hospitals and schools. Analysts will be able to ask for a region or feed coordinates from a [Global Positioning System] device, and [Rapid Assessment Tools] will extract whatever data the database has to answer that."

The Region 5 Superfund Divisions transition from Oracle Database 9i to 10g began last year, during the divisions beta tests of the new platform.

The division was won over by the capability of the Oracle Spatial option for Oracle Database 9i. Oracle Spatial let the division store vector data, such as the routes of roads, pipelines, and political or geographic feature boundaries. Oracle 10g expands these spatial data capabilities to include a broad range of efficient operations that can be performed on raster data such as images.

At the same time, the growing power and storage capacities available on desktop-replacement laptop systems—supported by the Oracle Personal version of the 10g product—open new possibilities for taking these functions into the field.

The Region 5 Superfund Division migrated the Rapid Assessment Tools application, initially developed for server and workstation environments, to laptops running Oracle Personal, at a license cost of about $700 per machine.

EPA Research Associate Larry Callant said the move has made it much easier for field personnel to find pertinent data. "Were in the middle of testing an external [Universal Serial Bus] hard drive with terabyte capacity that will have aerial photos of an entire area," Callant said. "A field analyst wont need to flip through a collection of CDs to find the needed image; its now just an automatic thing."

Crucial to these efforts are the image-querying tools of the 10g platforms Oracle Spatial GeoRaster option, enabled by the object/relational design of the platform and its ability to process extremely large collections of data. In addition to the existing ability to store vector data, GeoRaster 10g prepackages pixel-by-pixel data for efficient extraction of specific regions or the neighborhoods around specific points.

Two-dimensional map locations, three-dimensional locations tagged with depths or altitudes, and four-dimensional locations tagged with time stamps or other attribute data can be inspected in an accessible ASCII format, Callant said. "You can write a Select clause, and you can actually view it; its not just stored in some binary format," he said.

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