Virtual Observatory and Ecological Informatics System (VOEIS) Overview

The Virtual Observatory and Ecological Informatics System (VOEIS - "voice") is a collaborative project between the EPSCoR jurisdictions of Montana and Kentucky with partners from industry and the public sector and is funded by the National Science Foundation. We are developing an integrated sensor and ecological informatics system through the use of research-based lines of inquiry and an informatics framework that manages workflow from streaming sensor data to the application of those data in simulation models and visualizations.

FLBS is playing a significant role in the project to configure and deploy environmental sensors, including meteorological (MET) stations and water quality instruments, and to relay that data through wireless means back to a central database from which simulation models and visualizations can be run. This large NSF-funded effort will foster collaborative research related to environmental sensor networks and remote data transmission by a consortium of Montana and Kentucky universities and field stations. The envisioned system is intended to provide near real-time access to a variety of sensor data from multiple locations while generating a long-term multiregion database.


Project Sites

Montana Institute on Ecosystems: link.

VOEIS Portal Site:link


FLBS Sensor Network Overview

FLBS Lake Buoy
FLBS Lake Buoy

FLBS components of the VOEIS project include:

  • A network of MET stations around Flathead Lake
  • A pair of buoys in Flathead Lake that support water quality profiling instrumentation
  • The cyberinfrastructure needed to telemeter, store and retransmit the generated data

Data is transmitted via wireless technology to FLBS and ultimately incorporated into the main VOEIS database at Montana State University in Bozeman. The project produces large quantities of data and enhances their utility through rapid transmission and storage. This greatly assists with ongoing FLBS research. For example, under current Flathead Lake sampling regime, researchers obtain water quality profile data (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, etc.) at one location for a variety of depths 15X each year. However, with the buoys and automated profilers installed, data is remotely collected several times each day from two locations, thus greatly increasing the temporal and spatial resolution of our knowledge about the physical and biological conditions within Flathead Lake.

FLBS Met Station
FLBS Met Station

FLBS has successfully completed installing and configuring two new MET stations. Each station contains a suite of sensors, including air and soil temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, soil moisture, solar radiation, precipitation, and wind speed/direction. The primary site is on FLBS grounds at the top of the hill forming Yellow Bay point and was established as a wireless hub-and-spoke data collection and transmission system. This hub site includes a webcam for remote monitoring.

FLBS Hill Webcam
FLBS Weather Cam

The second station is located on the west shore of Flathead Lake (near Rollins). Sensor network data streams via 900 Mhz and 2.4 Ghz radios to FLBS and is stored in its raw form in a SQL database from which it can be processed for a variety of uses and audiences. Two applications already in place are near-time viewing of the FLBS weather stream on our homepage and inclusion of all sensor data in the central VOEIS database.

Design and implementation of further components of this sensor network are underway. In 2011, we plan to deploy the two Flathead Lake buoys with included instrumentation and automated lake profilers, install a new MET station in the Mission Mountains behind FLBS, and include more of the existing MET stations around Flathead Lake in the wireless data transmission network.