- Fact Sheets and Briefs
- Ways to use IRMA
- IRMA Intranet
- What is SOA?
- Transition Process
NPS is transforming the way natural resource information is managed and delivered to parks, partners, and the public. "IRMA," the Integration of Resource Management Applications, is the name given to the project that has guided this transformation, and to the web portal that is its end result.
IRMA is the beginnings of a "one-stop" for data and information on park-related resources. From IRMA you can search for, view, and download documents, reports, publications, data sets, park species lists, and links to additional data sources. No logins or passwords are needed.
Access to IRMA: access to data in IRMA is available to NPS users accessing IRMA from an NPS network or NPS computer (via VPN). Many records are also available to partners and the general public, and this number will be steadily increasing as the initial quality assurance steps continue and sensitive data are protected.
Webinars: Periodic webinars are held to demonstrate the main features of IRMA, highlight capabilities in new releases, and also to solicit feedback. Click here to see a list of recorded webinars and any that are upcoming. (NPS only)
Over the past decade, NRSS has built and maintained a variety of information systems to manage data on species, water resources, GIS layers, reports and publications, and research permits, to name a few. These systems, built with the best technology at the time, captured valuable information and provided essential tools for searching and storing resource information related to parks. However, almost every system looked different, used different terminology, and had different ways of entering or searching for information. Moving between systems was difficult, and often the same information had to be entered in several different places. From both a content and a technology standpoint, it was clear that NPS was outgrowing the existing "silo" systems.
The goal of IRMA is to provide a central web portal, a single sign-on system, and a common user interface for many different types and sources of park resource information. The underlying architecture of this portal is based on service-oriented architecture, which allows efficient use and sharing (both within NPS and with partners) of data.
IRMA Project Documentation
- IRMA 2-page Brief
- Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) Brief
- IRMA Project Summary: a more extensive description of IRMA project, including an overview, project history, current status, and roadmap (approx. 25 pages) - updated June, 2010
- Information Management-related Standards: a summary of standards used by I&M, including many that are integrated into IRMA.
- IRMA SharePoint Site [NPS only]
Common Uses of IRMA
- Search the Data Store for documents or data pertaining to a specific subject in one or more parks
- Create a bibliography by downloading the list of citations resulting from Data Store search
- Download a document, PDF or GIS data file resulting from a Data Store search
- Create a Data Store record and upload the associated digital file: IRMA walks you through the process step-by-step
- Get a park species list
- Find out which species in a park are considered ozone-sensitive. And also which are state-sensitive.
- Find out all the parks in which a species occurs
- View and download a list of parks in a region
- Find information on other natural resource topics
What is SOA?
In a nutshell, service-oriented architecture (SOA) takes complex stand-alone data systems and breaks them down into smaller, interoperable and sharable "services." Take park unit codes as an example. Rather than each information system managing its own table of park acronyms and names, IRMA is providing a "unit service" that makes this information available to many systems.
The benefit of this approach is that data are contained and managed in one place. Individual applications no longer need to build and manage duplicate sets of park unit data, or other types of shared data. This helps eliminate entering the same data in more than one place, ensures that all users are building on a common data set, and allows reusing and combining multiple services in ways that fit user needs.
Service-oriented architecture also sets the stage for data sharing both within NPS and among other organizations or agencies. By using common web-based standards, we can easily integrate data from other sources (e.g., USGS, Fish and Wildlife Service) into IRMA. Conversely, partners can access our data directly via "web services" and integrate results directly in their websites.
The Transition Process
The transition to service-oriented architecture was neither quick nor simple, and it required fundamental changes to our organization, hardware, and software; in particular:
- Database staff now work in collaborative, functional teams instead of within individual "silos." Team members have responsibilities related to, for example, user requirements, programming, or quality assurance, and work with all aspects of IRMA.
- Processes are in place for project planning, documentation, user-driven design, change control, and release management. Collaboration tools such as SharePoint, Project Server, HP Quality Center, and Team Foundation Server provide tools for document sharing, project management, quality assurance, and software development processes.
- Development teams all use the same software, and hardware resources have been added and reconfigured for increased speed and security. IRMA hardware now comprises distinct Development, QA, Integration, and Production environments, with associated improvements in network security.
These changes have resulted in both a solid foundation and a roadmap for moving forward with how NPS develops and manages natural resource information.