Designing environmental databases for statistical analyses
Hale SS, Buffum HW.
The Environmental Monitoring and Assessment program (EMAP) collects data that are used to statistically assess the environmental condition of large geographic regions. These data are then posted on the EMAP web site so that anyone can use them. Databases used for the statistical analyses, "analytical" databases, differ in design from the "general-use" databases used by a secondary audience. Their scope is usually restricted in time, in geographic extent, and in type and content of data, often being limited to a single scientific discipline. Their structure may be more horizontal than vertical, so that statistical programs can import the data easily. Their design is strongly influenced by the nature of the scientific analysis because the goal is to create a good computing environment for that analysis. We illustrate these aspects of design with an analytical database for estuaries in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.