Yesterday, I had a long telephone conversation with John Peterson at VA Tech. Very productive. Just about all the details have been ironed out. He is going to create a stand alone database for us using the record format identified previously. The first field will be a key field. Don Bertolette and I discussed a key field format yesterday evening: MM-xxxxxx-NNN is the general format where MM = state abbreviation, xxxxxx = numeric value in the format 000001, 000002, etc. NNN = measurers initials. So, my first submission will be MA-000001-RTL, second tree will be MA-000002-RTL. Discussions with Ray Asselin this morning suggests a form like MM-xxxxxx-NNN-xx where the latter xx identifies a sequence number for the particular tree. The entire key is alphanumeric. Other fields might suggest that measurements of the same tree could be identified by tree name, but not everyone names trees. Nor will everyone necessarily revisit old record regularly for fields updates. This format allows each data contributor to begin with a sequential number 000001. I don't think any of use will measure over 999,999 trees.
Addressing a question Doug Bidlack asked about storing the original discoverer and date of discovery, this can be handled in the comments section.
In terms of how the system will work, each measurer will be signed up by John Peterson based on the information that Don and I pass to him. We don't want people signing up who we don't know. So, we need to hear from you if you want in. Then only people who are signed in will be recognized by the system. Once you have your user name and password, you'll be able to use the database to input new trees, edit existing ones, print out lists/reports, and export trees to an Excel file. The public can see all trees, but not the property owner or where the trees are located if those flags are turned off.
BTW, John Peterson is a professional forester who took up programming as a sideline, so on record design, we can communicate with him more easily than if he were just an IT professional. He measurers trees with a TP 360. How cool is that? John also maintains the VA champion tree list.
With the above said John is undertaking this project at VA Tech's expense. We must be respectful of his time and of the computer resources they allow us to use. If anyone has a desire to have more fields, now is the time to speak up. My preference is keep it simple.Maybe one or two more fields and only then if plenty of us agree to use them.
The schedule that John and I agreed to is that we get him the final record layout by Friday. Next week he will work on building our database and website access features. So what does VA Tech get out of this for providing us a free database service. They are able to offer world class tree measurement data to the public and use our tree maximums to update his VTree app. Attached is the import database I sent to John that he'll use unless we add fields between now and Friday.
I think I know who most of those who are interested in contributing to this database, but I don't want to assume more than I actually know. Please let Don and/or me know if you want to come aboard. We will not submit the names of any who don't contact us and let us know.
Don, do you have anything to add?
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Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest