In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 411 March 09, 2006


SUBJECT: Policy and Archive Guidance for Ground-Water Data Collection using Handheld Computers

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide policy and guidance for ground-water data collection and archive using MONKES software. The memo contains the following information:

1. Background on the MONKES suite of handheld computer programs
2. Recommendations for use of the MONKES1 program
3. Installation, documentation, and support of the MONKES1 program
4. Guidelines for protecting and archiving electronic data from the MONKES1 program

Background on MONKES

The Multi Optional Network Key Entry System (MONKES) is a series of programs on handheld computers for ground-water data entry and processing. MONKES modules were originally created by Steve Predmore (CA), Burl Goree (LA), and Ron Seanor (LA). It is designed to operate on a handheld computer that has a Windows CE Operating System.

The MONKES1 program is used to input and process ground-water level measurements in the field. A new version of MONKES1 (version 3.1) has been expanded to include the collection of site-visit information at wells instrumented with digital recorders. MONKES1 currently is used in more than 18 Water Science Centers. The MONKES2 program is used to enter site data for new ground-water sites and update existing site information. The MONKES3 program is used to enter ground-water water-level and water-quality field data. MONKES2 and MONKES3 currently are available as beta versions.

Recommendations for use of MONKES1

It is the vision of the Office of Ground Water to utilize mobile technology to improve workflow processes in the collection, processing, and quality assurance of our ground-water data. As such, the Office of Ground Water recommends the use of MONKES1 for routine ground-water level data collection throughout the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Centers. The MONKES1 program offers the following advantages to paper notes:
(1) one time data entry, avoiding transcription and math errors,
(2) immediate data validation against current NWIS reference lists,
(3) easily accessible NWIS site information to verify location of wells,
(4) a listing of latest water-level measurements for data verification,
(5) an immediate check for completeness of record, avoiding inadvertent omission of required fields,
(6) timely data entry into NWIS by use of GWSI batch entry, and
(7) the archive of all site visit data in an XML file which can be easily transferred to a permanent online archive.

Installation, Documentation, and Support of MONKES1

Jerry Feese, Kansas Water Science Center, provides on-going support for MONKES1. For help, email should be sent to the Lotus group GS-W Help MONKES. There is also a MONKES Interest Group, a forum for users of the programs. Email can be sent to this group at GS-W MONKES. Limited support also is provided for MONKES2 and MONKES3, as development of these programs continues.

MONKES1, v3.1 requires a Personal Data Assistant (PDA) handheld computer that has a Windows CE Operating System of Pocket PC 2000, 2002, 2003, or 2003 second edition. MONKES1 has been successfully tested on several models of Pocket PCs. The MONKES programs are not compatible with PDAs using operating systems other than Windows CE, which include Palm, Symbian, Linux, Delphi, and BlackBerry. MONKES 3.1 currently is not compatible with Windows Mobile 5.0 (Pocket PC 2005). However, version 3.1 is currently being ported to .NET, which is compatible with Pocket PC 2005 and is backward compatible with previous versions of Pocket PC. Contact GS-W Help MONKES for an updated list of Pocket PCs that work with MONKES.

MONKES1, v 3.1 is now available. All of the information needed for downloading, installing, and operating the MONKES1 program is available at URL Documentation for the program includes chapters covering the following information: introductory material, a checklist for getting started, downloading the programs, setting up field trips, file management, tip sheets, version history, and system documentation for programmers.

Guidelines for Protecting and Archiving Electronic Data from MONKES programs

As stated above, the use of handheld computers for field data collection improves the overall efficiency of our data collection activities. However, electronic field notes are a significant change in our typical practices, and thus we must remind ourselves of our obligation as federal employees to collect, store, and archive this information for posterity. Procedures must be in place to assure that irreplaceable original data collected in the field are not lost. Instructions for safeguarding files in the field are included in the MONKES1 User Manual, Chapter B 'Setting Paths', for output and backup files. The use of Non-Volatile Memory, such as Compact Flash or Secure Digital data cards, is mandatory for storing data files in the field. Optionally, water-level reports from the MONKES1 program can be printed and stored in site folders.

As with any work flow processes in a Water Science Center, all data handling, backup, and storage procedures should be documented in the Center’s Ground-Water Quality Assurance or Data Management Plan, and the Archive Plan. Archiving is defined as the systematic process of storing data to protect it from change or loss. Open File Report 97-11, "A Quality-Assurance Plan for District Ground-Water Activities of the U.S. Geological Survey" outlines the steps to quality assure the archiving process, which includes the establishment and maintenance of a District Archive Plan. Additionally, the process of electronic archiving includes the capability to easily recover the data for future uses. To that end, all XML files produced by MONKES1 are considered to be original data and must be stored online in a directory structure on a Water Science Center server using a standard naming convention. The archive server should be on a regular backup schedule. The following directory structure is provided as an example for the XML archive, where 'party' is the MONKES Party field, and the 'datetime' is in the format, YYYYMMDDHHMMSS, for example, 20050302174833.gfeese.OD.xml.


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In addition to the .xml output, MONKES produces a GWSI batch transaction file using the naming convention, These files can be recreated at any time from the .xml files, so they need not be archived. A useful tool, a program called MobileSync written by Burl Goree, can be used to make the process of moving files easier. Because many wells often are included within an individual XML file, this file structure will be difficult to search for specific wells. In the future, a script will be written to search on a structure such as this.

In conclusion, the Office of Ground Water recommends the use of MONKES1 for routine ground-water level data collection. Use of the MONKES1 software will improve workflow processes in the collection, processing, and quality assurance of our ground-water data. Systematic backup and archival of the data collected using this software will ensure the reproducibility of these data.

William M. Alley/signed/
Chief, Office of Ground Water

Distribution: A, B, DC, CD, GS-W-VAres OGW All, GS-W GW All, GS-W NWIS Staff All, GS-W NWIS UG All, GS-W NWIS DBAS, GS-W SA All, GS-W-VAres OGW, GS-W MONKES