Data Management

In the 1980's the reindeer research program began collectng data in the form of individual animal health/observance records from reindeer herds on the Seward Peninsula. During that time an application for data entry and reporting was developed with Clipper compiled Dbase, running on Toshiba portable computers(2 T3100s, 1 T5100 ) with gas plasma screens. Data was recorded at both summer and winter reindeer handlings at most of the corrals on the Seward Peninsula at the time.

The Seward Peninsula reindeer animal health data entry and reporting system was further developed into the mid 1990's with improvements to data entry and reporting and connectivity to devices (weight readout, RFID scanners). In the mid 1990s the original application and database was replaced with a system using Lotus Approach and the addition of Videx's handheld Omniwand portable data collector. Various brand laptops and desktops from Gateway and Dell were used druing this time period for the main data management system, and field deployable systems.

UAF AFES reindeer herd arrives in the fall of 1997
With the arrival of 20 reindeer at the Unversity of Alaska, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station(AFES), a new set of reindeer data began to grow. The data for these reindeer was stored in a number of spreadsheets on the data management workstation.

The introduction of satellite collars added another data stream to RRP data managment.
In the late 1990's the introduction of satellite collars on reindeer, added another new dataset to collect, process, archive, and report on using the RRP's fairly new world wide web presence. This allowed the RRP to provide reindeer herders on the Seward Peninsula satellite collared reindeer location maps. Satellite collar location data was emailed to RRP personnel from ARGOS and q/a q/c processing performed before the qualified data was plotted on individual herder maps using ArcGis. These maps were then converted to jpegs and uploaded to the RRP's webserver. This process was all manual.

2001 Centralization and consolidation of datasets & automation of data processing.
In 2001, RRP data management began transitioning to having centralized repository of all datasets, documents, and images on a Linux system, running and Apache webserver, a MYSQL database server, and using PHP scripting (Linux,Apache,MYSQL,PHP system = LAMP). The server was a custom built system by RRP data management and included a 3 disk drive raid 5 configuration. A samba server was also configured to share file systems to RRP staff computers on the network.

The first push for centralization resulted in development of a system to upload files and add descriptive information, which was called CMS for content management system. Uploaded files were stored in a fixed directory structure on the RRP server, and the descriptive information as well as file location was stored in a MYSQL database. The CMS system also included an interface to search for and retrieve files in the system. An effort was made to upload all files from individual RRP workstations into this centralized system.

Seward Peninsula animal health data and record keeping system was transitioned to the new system using Apache, MYSQL and php scripting. One of the windows laptops used in the field was set up to act as a remote server using Cygwin, and a wireless network router added to field equipment, mainly for use at the Davis handlings, where multiple data entry stations were used.

The AFES farm reindeer data had grown into a large collection of spreadsheets containing all the details about the reindeer on the farm. All of these many spreadsheets were examined and then consolidated into the following 7 spreadsheets:

TreatmentsTag,Date,Treatment,Treatment Details
CommentsTag,Date,Comment,Comment Details
EventsTag,Date,Event,Event Details
SamplesTag,Date,Sample,Sample Details

The columns of these spreadsheets were specifically chosen so that all of the multitide of spreadsheets could be consolidated into these seven. The columns were also chosen so that these spreadsheets could later be easily loaded into database tables once a system of data entry, and reporting was set up for this data.

Processing of reindeer satellite collar data transitioned from a manual process to an automated process. Location data formerly delivered via email was set up to be delivered via ftp to a fixed directory on the RRP linux server. A series of processing scripts (bash,sed,PHP) were developed to archive the raw incoming data, and also process and perform qa/qc functions to then load qualified location data into a MYSQL table. Further scripts(bash,PHP) were written to create location maps using Generic Mapping Tools(GMT) and digital elevation data, then convert them to jpegs using Imagemagick and move them to the reindeer herder accessible web site. Unix CRON scheduler was set up to run all the processing soon after data was delivered by ARGOs every morning so that any new location maps were automatically created and available at the start of the day.

2004 Development of AFES Farm Reindeer Data Entry & Reporting System & New Satellite Location Maps.
During 2004 a system(LAMP) for data entry and reporting for AFES farm reindeer data was developed and deployed on the RRP webserver. All the data existing in the 7 consolidated spreadsheets was uploaded into 7 MYSQL tables where all future data would reside. This system was in constant development as new reports were added, and additional types of data were collected.

2007 Vegetation Mapping & Google Earth Satellite Location Maps
During 2007 Google Earth satellite collar maps were added to the reindeer satellite collar mapping system. As RRP data management become more familiar with Keyhole Markup Language(KML), new applications began development. Animated timelines of reindeer collar satellite location data could be displayed in Google Earth. Using seward peninsula ecosite dataset created by the Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS) and formulas for julian day plant nutrient values developed by Greg Finstad for his thesis: Applied Range Ecology Of Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) On The Seward Peninsula, Alaska. a new system for vegetation mapping began development. NRCS ecosite data was converted to MYSQL database tables, with the vector portion of the ecosite data converted to KML before loading it into MYSQL tables. The first generation of the vegetation mapping system used Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) to create static jpeg vegetation maps. The second generation of vegetation mapping, created KMLS for viewing with GoogleEarth, and included the ability to run timeline animations of vegetation nutrient changes during the summer months.

2010 USDA Constructed Iridium Satellite GPS Collars
During the 2010 field season a graduate project used Iridium Satellite GPS collars constructed by personnel at the USDA. The data delivery to the RRP server was via email attachments which required some scripts to automatically decode and process the data and load it into MYSQL tables. A web based user interface was also written which allowed for sending reprogramming commands to the collars as well as reviewing the processed data.

2011 Exclosure data, and data entry system
During the 2011 field season this graduate project : Collaborative Monitoring of Seward Peninsula, Alaska Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) Grazing Lands. required RRP data management to develop a new exclosure database and a web based data entry & reporting system for interacting with it. The system also provided for easy creation of data entry sheet forms and labels for exclosure transects.

2012 Development of ROBA database to enable feed analysis and performance comparisons.
In 2012 data management was tasked with creating a database to enable Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association Members (ROBA), to share reindeer feed and performance data to compare against each other and the RRP's long term weight data.

2013 AFES Reindeer Feedlog ipad data entry system & server syncing system implemented.
During 2013, paper forms for recording reindeer feeding data were moved to an ipad based data entry system. Since there was no network connectivity in the feedmill where this data was recorded, a database and data entry system was set up on a jail broken ipad. This database could be then be synchronized with the feedlog database on the RRP server by taking the ipad outside the feedmill and connecting to UAF's network and performing a sync operation. This allowed for near realtime tracking of feeding data.

2016-2017 Predator Detection using Lotek iridium satellite collars

2018 Satellite Collar program ends.

2019 AFES Reindeer Herd Transferred to Stevens Village

2020 Virtual Fence Project using 4 different Models of Lotek GPS Satellite Collars.