IIa Develops NOAA's Repository to Improve Access to Oil Spill Data Provided from Multiple Agencies

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched the Deepwater Horizon Institutional Repository (DWH-IR), the nation’s only searchable online database with comprehensive access to information collected by multiple government agencies in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Developed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and Information International Associates, Inc. (IIa) as part of the Federal Science Repository Service (FSRS) joint venture, the DWH-IR increases access and usability of the DWH oil spill information in NOAA’s custody and supports online discovery and dissemination of the data in digital form.

The DWH-IR is supported by content managers and a technical team from IIa and NTIS, and hosted by NTIS. IIa provided design and development of the repository, including the content model to support the storage and management of the content, the metadata scheme to support federated search and display, and the indexing scheme to support the functionality of the user interface. IIa also developed the DWH-IR’s capability to handle multimedia including video, audio, and images.

Because it requires expert knowledge and skill to effectively find and use data from multiple agencies, NOAA launched the DWH-IR to make it easier for federal agency personnel and the public to find and use government information related to the DWH oil spill. While the DWH-IR is the nation’s only searchable repository of information collected in federally funded studies or scientific forums in response to the oil spill, it allows each agency to maintain ownership and management of its data. Currently, the DWH-IR contains over 1,000 scientific reports and studies on the DWH oil spill from NOAA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and content will continue to be added. The design for the DWH-IR is scalable and reproducible for federal, state, and local governments as well as academic and scientific institutions, and can support both agency and thematic collections. This solution finds efficiencies in time and cost by providing one-point access to massive volumes of data from disparate communities.

In 2011, the DWH-IR was featured in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Customer Service Plan as a major technology-driven initiative that will advance Commerce’s customer service over the next year because it creates a singular point of access for Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill information. The fully functioning DWH-IR will create increased public transparency by preserving and publishing information, increase efficiency for answering customer inquiries, and reduce direct customer contact for FOIA and, potentially, eDiscovery requests.