UIS Informatics Commission Report 1997-2001

Peter MATTHEWS, April 2001

It's been a busy four years for the Informatics Commission and though we haven't completed as much as we hoped, we have made significant progress as detailed below. My special thanks go to the generous skilled people below who have made the work of the Commission possible, and to the many people who have helped them. Special thanks also go to Associate Professor Brian Finlayson, Head of the School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies at Melbourne University, who has continued to provide free hosting for UIS' website since 1994. Unfortunately I am unable to attend this year's Congress - please accept my apologies.

Caver's Multi-lingual Dictionary - Dr. Attila KÓSA, Hungary

After Attila's paper at the Swiss UIS Congress (Proc Vol.5 p129) describing his published Dictionary and the problems in producing it, I suggested a web-based version to avoid the publishing cost, to avoid the need to produce several versions sorted by language, and to make it available to more people. Attila readily agreed so we worked together to convert his dictionary into a database which is now used for updating the terms and for generating the dictionary web pages. He started with four languages, but thanks to several generous contributors over the period and Attila's hard work he has now expanded it to eight: English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish. More are welcome! Multiple character sets can be displayed on the web pages, which also include a bibliography and links to various speleo glossaries around the world.
Attila: kosaatti@mail.matav.hu

International Speleo Calendar - Roger TAYLOR, Australia

Roger has continued to work quietly in the background keeping the Calendar web pages updated with details of coming speleo events from around the world (now up to the 203rd event!). There was a delay over recent months because of pressing other responsibilities, but he is now back on deck and has recently loaded a major update. Please be sure to keep Roger advised of your national and international events and so get the benefit of the extra publicity.
Web: http://www.uis-speleo.org/calendar/events.html
Roger: rtaylor@netspace.net.au

Mapping Symbols - Philipp HÄUSELMANN, Switzerland

After running an intensive Workshop at the Swiss UIS Congress to continue his existing consultative work on cave mapping symbols, Philipp led an international Working Group of the Commission to finalise, vote on and publish on the web a set of UIS basic cave mapping symbols for international use. The symbols are a universal basic set, designed to be augmented with further specialised and/or local symbols where necessary, and were adopted in May 1999. Philipp is now commencing a new Working Group of the Commission in collaboration with the Karst Commission of the International Geographical Union to establish agreed symbols for surface karst mapping. Please contact Philipp if you want to help.
Web: http://www.uisic.uis-speleo.org/wgsurmap.html
Philipp: praezis@mpi.unibe.ch

Cave Data Exchange Format - Andreas NEUMANN, Switzerland

This international Working Group was set up at the beginning of this year to establish an agreed transfer format for cave/karst data using XML (Extensible Markup Language), concentrating first on data for cave surveys and maps. Vigorous discussion has been continuing since then via a special emailing list set up by Andreas for the purpose. Please contact Andreas if you want to help.
Web: http://www.cavexml.uis-speleo.org
Andreas: andreas.neumann@karto.baug.ethz.ch

Cave Data Field Definitions - Peter MATTHEWS, Australia

The basic aim is to create a wide repertoire of agreed field definitions so that those deciding to use a suitable subset of them in their system can validly exchange, compare and/or consolidate data with others who are also using the standard fields. Relevant experts will be consulted of course to allow inclusion also of specialised fields from various disciplines. This project has not progressed as far as I would have liked in that we have not yet formed the Working Group nor started the international discussion, however significant work has already been done: a detailed project proposal has been published, 542 fields have so far been identified, defined and published for discussion (many of these fields have already been used by the Australian database), a sample database table structure has been published for the "cave" entity using these fields, a set of "basic" fields has been identified by a workshop at the Swiss UIS Congress, many other fields which are being used around the world have been collected for later incorporation into the main list, and a technique has been developed for easy production of custom paper data-entry forms, based on the UIS fields, for off-line data accumulation prior to data entry. This Working Group will of course be working in close liaison with the above Data Exchange WG.
Web: http://www.uisic.uis-speleo.org/exchange/exchprop.html
Peter: matthews@melbpc.org.au

Cave Database Software - Peter MATTHEWS, Australia

A major part of my time over the period has gone into establishing what is actually needed for a practical distributed cave/karst database which can be used by multiple clubs contributing to a regional and/or national database, and into implementing this in the software. The Australian Speleological Federation's national Karst Index Database was used as a real-life pilot, and all the cave, area, map and references data from its book "Australian Karst Index 1985" was successfully converted and loaded - the cave fields used can be seen in the table structure shown on the above web pages. Some functionality is still missing, but the software implements the UISIC fields and proposals and currently allows reading, querying, reporting and updating the cave data in a multi-club environment, and reading, querying and reporting the map, references, organisations, and people data. It also contains the data dictionary for the proposed UIS fields and subject classifications, and generates their respective web pages. This first version deliberately uses "old­fashioned" DOS software so that clubs around the world can run it on any old PC - a 386 with 2MB of memory is enough. The software will eventually be available from UISIC as freeware, and its specs published so that others can build modern multi-platform versions making use of the practical organisational principles which it incorporates. (ASF has bypassed this "old-fashioned" software and its built-in knowhow, and jumped straight to a modern web-based version using the UISIC proposals. They have successfully loaded some of the above data on to the web as read-only, but not yet worked out the hard part - how clubs are going to update their data. ASF Web: http://www.caves.org.au/kid/)

UIS Web Pages - Peter MATTHEWS, Australia

The Commission continues to produce and manage the UIS web pages, which among other things lists all the commissions and their presidents, and provides up-to-date addresses of all UIS people. Recent additions include the UIS statutes, fees, brief history, names and addresses of the UIS delegates and deputies for each country, and downloadable copies of the UIS-BULLETIN. Planned further additions are "PDF" versions of the UIS-BULLETIN so that people can easily produce proper printed copies, a "UIS jobs vacant" board for posting requests for help, and a single place to find all UIS standards/guidelines. Further suggestions are welcome! Many commissions have still not yet taken advantage of the opportunity to explain and publicise their work via these web pages. UIS has now obtained its own Internet domain name "uis-speleo.org" ("uis" was not available) which will be implemented shortly.
Web: http://www.uis-speleo.org
Peter: matthews@melbpc.org.au

Other Projects

Two planned projects which have not yet properly started are a cave/karst informatics bibliography (Günter STÜMMER, Austria), and a revised speleo subject classification scheme (Peter MATTHEWS, Australia) in collaboration with the Bibliography Commission (Alexander KLIMCHOUK, Ukraine). Please get in touch if you want to help.
Günter: speleo.austria@netway.at
Peter: matthews@melbpc.org.au
Alexander: klim@klim.carrier.kiev.ua

UISIC Vacancies

* Field Form Library Manager
* Address Database Manager
* Informatics Bulletin Editor

Next Period

For this next period's plan I think we can be satisfied just to complete all our existing work-in-progress! However further suggestions are always welcome! I am happy to continue as President of the Commission if UIS so wishes.

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