• USER ACCESS TO THE ARCHIVE •
The Biodiversity Center's spatial data archive is intended to serve the entire University community, but the master files are on computers and optical media that are relatively inaccessible. Of course the Biodiversity Center staff can find and retrieve requested data items, but that can be a major hassle. It is much more efficient if users can search for and retrieve data items acting entirely on their own. The Geodata Drive makes that possible in the great majority of cases. The Geodata Drive is part of the UWGB computer network and it contains a very large subset of our spatial data archive. GIS users are strongly encouraged to become familiar with Geodata and to make it the second place they look when they've identified a need for a particular item of spatial data. Why second? Because the first step should should be a search of Internet map services.
At times it seems that using the spatial data archive is more trouble than it's worth. Public domain data downloads are free and fast, so it might be simpler for us to get the data each time it's needed. That may be true in some cases, but most of our users find that the time spent finding and downloading files is just the beginning. Additional work often needs to be done to assure the useablity of the downloaded files - uncompressing, cataloging, checking/fixing, adding pyramids, etc. If needed data has already been downloaded and cataloged, it usually pays to go to the archive for it, rather than downloading it again.
Get To Know the Geodata Drive
The Geodata Drive is part of UWGB's campus computer network. It is available to all authorized users of the network, but it doesn't show up in the Windows folder tree unless it is "mapped" by the user. Those with faculty/staff accounts can map the drive once and configure Windows so that it is mapped automatically after that. Those with student accounts must map the drive each time they log in. Our Geodata Drive web page includes step-by-step instructions for mapping the drive.
The folder naming conventions used to organize the spatial data master archive also apply to the spatial data portion of Geodata. However the drive is not big enough to contain a complete replica of the spatial data master archive. A few large and esoteric databases have been omitted, but their folder structure still shows up on Geodata under top folders flagged with the phrase "volumes available on request".
Use the Geodata Drive Properly
Even though it is technically feasible, it is not appropriate to use the Geodata drive as a workspace. It is OK to link to files on Geodata from an ArcGIS map document as part of searching for and evaluating data. But maintaining such links is extremely bad practice. Data items that have been selected for inclusion in a user's GIS should be copied to his/her workspace and accessed there. Take our word for it, trying to maintain links to files located on Geodata will result in much unhappiness.