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TRENDS IN CIVIL AND STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING COMPUTING
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping, L.F. Costa Neves, R.C. Barros
NEESit: An IT Framework for Collaboration in Earthquake Engineering Research
A. Elgamal1, C. Baru2, L. Van Den Einde2, S. Krishnan2, K. Fowler2 and T.P. Tadepalli2
1Department of Structural Engineering, 2San Diego Supercomputer Center,
A. Elgamal, C. Baru, L. Van Den Einde, S. Krishnan, K. Fowler, T.P. Tadepalli, "NEESit: An IT Framework for Collaboration in Earthquake Engineering Research", in B.H.V. Topping, L.F. Costa Neves, R.C. Barros, (Editors), "Trends in Civil and Structural Engineering Computing", Saxe-Coburg Publications, Stirlingshire, UK, Chapter 11, pp 225-241, 2009. doi:10.4203/csets.22.11
Keywords: NEES, NEESit, seismic, earthquake engineering, information technology, cyberinfrastructure, collaboratory.
An overview of developments and accomplishments is presented, highlighting the main aspects of a large-scale Cyberinfrastructure research collaboratory. Built for the US NSF George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), this Cyberinfrastructure Information Technology (IT) effort is undertaken by NEESit, currently at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).
NEESit (http://nees.org), a service-focused organization, develops, operates and supports this extensive IT NEES collaboratory infrastructure. The tools involved may be classified into the categories: a) software for organizing, archiving, and sharing experimental and computational data, b) telepresence tools for enabling remote participation in experiment planning and execution, c) visualization capabilities for display of the sensor data and synchronized video images, d) collaboration services for joint efforts in research/education, e) integrative tools for computational and physical-computational simulations, including high end computing environments (e.g., networked clusters and parallel computers), and f) cyber-security mechanisms to enable various levels of authorized access to data and resources. In addition, NEESit services include: i) user support, ii) management of supercomputing allocations, iii) hosting of a community code repository (NEESforge), and iv) conducting education and outreach efforts to promote learning and communication among the IT and earthquake engineering communities.
For the NEES project, a principal motivation driving the cyberinfrastructure component was the need for a global curated data repository (for experimental as well as computational simulations). For that purpose, a robust database archiving environment and an Internet accessible interface, along with an extensible Data Model was developed to systematically allow for organizing this data and all relevant related information of interest (i.e., the metadata). In view of the diversified NEES experimentation and computational simulation activities, an appropriate robust extensible data model was developed. Gradually, evolution of the data model was based on participation of "Use Case Groups" comprised of members of the earthquake engineering community who further defined user requirements and acceptance criteria for this software development process. Implementation of the data model in the form of an internet accessible database further allowed for capabilities such as: i) robust organization and storage of the data, ii) convenient searching and downloading, iii) availability of the data in common standard format(s), iv) ability to set different levels of access for different user groups, v) automated backup and archiving, and vi) instant accessibility without need for intermediate storage media that may become obsolete or outdated.
Along with the above data repository, NEESit has also developed capabilities for Tele-presence, including real-time video and sensor data sharing, and secure communication protocols. The potential for employing the NEESit extensible software framework for applications in other fields of engineering and science is evident.
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