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Technical Service Center, Geotechnical Services,
Instrumentation and Inspections Group

Computer System

Database Input Output Server Clients Network

The Data Acquisition and Management System (DAMS) consists of the following major components:

These components work together to collect, verify, and display instrumentation data from various facilities.

DAMS Clients

Workstations can run the DAMS client providing they have Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed and can communicate with the DAMS Server on the network. The client program is the Graphical User Interface (GUI) that is used for entering and retrieving instrumentation data. The program is installed by clicking on a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) normally hosted on the DAMS Server and requires no elevated permissions as the program resides in the local client profile.

DAMS Server

The DAMS Server functions as the client gateway and database manager. It is the engine that provides the authentication, authorization, and accountability for staff to enter and retrieve only the information that is pertinent to their tasks. The DAMS Client acts as remote control that triggers database queries on the Server. The results of these queries are then passed back to the client in the form of a success/failure message or a subset of the data for the client to display (depending on the action requested at the client).

DAMS Database

The Oracle object-relational database management system (RDBMS) houses the entire set of data that makes up the Data Acquisition and Management System schema.

Being a centralized database used by every facility, and based upon a set of pre-defined objects, the database presents a standardized infrastructure for all aspects of manipulating instrumentation data.

Using objects rather than program code allows a very scalable and dynamic way to configure facility elements and formulas. For example, there is a table named Dams, which has all the characteristics pertaining to a facility (such as name, processor, reviewer, engineer, Region, etc...). There is also a table named Instruments that pertain to the various instruments and contains those specific characteristics (such as name, equation, active or inactive, etc...). These tables are linked to each other through a table called DamInstruments, which links the instruments to a facility. This many-to-many relationship makes DAMS very easy to configure and maintain with no hard coding of the program required.

DataBase Example

The equations used for the instrument reduction value are scripts stored in the database written as Java language. These mathematical equations can reference constants and variables also stored in the database. New facilities, new instruments, new equations, and many other facets of the program are all objects stored in the database and therefore make setup and configuration extremely easy.

Setup Example

Example of setting up an Instrument

Data Input

Instruments or visual inspections are read at the facility by staff or automated systems (or a combination of both) based on the quantity, costs, accessibility, and frequency of the reading schedule.

Automated data acquisition systems are in operation at a number of Reclamation facilities. Instrumentation data at these dams are transmitted to DAMS using the Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) operated by NASA.

Automated data collectors (also known as data loggers) are also used at many facilities. These data loggers will continue to collect data from instruments until retrieved to a device locally or retrieved remotely via modem, internet, or radio. This data can then be processed through the DAMS data reformat programs (customized to individual facilities).

The majority of facilities use personnel to take the readings manually. This data is then entered directly into DAMS via the Data Entry screen either at the facility or transmitted via fax, voice, e-mail, or postal mail to another office for entry.

Data Entry

Data Entry Screen

The Data Entry screen is where the "raw" reading value is entered, then the reduced value is generated based upon the equation performed on that raw reading. In the example above data is being entered for Porous-Tube Piezometers, the equation is pt_water = pt_top - raw1. Since the variable pt_top is 4903.68 for this instrument, this would give a value of pt_water = 4903.68 - .25, or a value of 4903.43.

This screen also shows us the minimum value expected, the maximum value expected, and the change from the prior reduced reading to quickly identify potential issues with the quality of the data being entered. Visual clues are generated when data does not fall within the expected ranges (such as the number turning red). Ranges can be applied to raw data, reduced values, or both. The goal is to reduce errors on data entry which will provide more reliable output.

Data Output

There are various functions in the DAMS Client that allow the viewing of instrumentation data.

Data is retrieved primarily using reports or plots, clicking on the method will take you to a new page with examples of that method.

Text Reports

Text Reports

Text Reports can be used to easily export data to other programs. Reports are highly customizable to print constants, minimum / maximums, data entry reviews, logs, and schedules for periodic monitoring.

Graphical Plots

Graphical Plots

Graphical and Quantitative Plots allow a visual representation of data where viewing each separate data element would be prohibitive. The use of these plots allows a quick analysis of trends, relationships, ranges, and most importantly outlier detection of data.

Network (LAN/WAN)

The network (or computer network) provides the interconnection of the DAMS Clients with the DAMS Server, and of the DAMS Server with the DAMS Database. This connectivity allows clients to submit and retrieve data anywhere on the Bureau of Reclamation network (including Virtual Private Network [VPN] connections). This allows near real-time viewing of data by engineers even when located at a remote facility connected through a cellular network card.

Using the network provides the ability to have the Server, Database, and Clients all managed separately by their respective teams in their own locations, yet maintain a centralized presence worldwide.


Last Revision: June 13, 2011