What is a Regional Data Center?

When seeking the most useful, salient, and credible environmental data focused on the San Francisco Bay and northern montagne regions, those in the know immediately look to SFEI.

Since 2007, SFEI has one of several Regional Data Centers (RDC) in California that exchanges water quality data to the California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN). At the same time, SFEI has served as the appointed data repository serving regional programs, individual organizations, and sundry individuals. Central to the RDC is the team supporting it. The Data Services team at SFEI is often consulted by those with sophisticated data management needs. The team offers extensive experience in handling the full life-cycle of diverse environmental data. Providing data processing, analysis, and visualization services through the RDC, the team also facilitates access to the data through various reporting tools and webservices such as the Contaminant Data Display and Download Tool (CD3) and EcoAtlas.

SFEI provides scientific support and tools for decision-making and communication through collaborative efforts. As a non-profit and joint-powers authority, they uphold the highest principles to promote the public trust in the integrity of the best-available science. To that end, SFEI has served clients since 1992 to process and harmonize data used in the course of decision making. SFEI leverages the latest innovations in data management to ensure efficient and effective data processing. Clients rely on SFEI for its strong quality control and peerless datasets, known for their use by a broad range of stakeholders. With public agencies and NGOs -- regulators and the regulated community alike -- on its Board of Directors, the organization is designed to foster mutual trust for the science and data it stewards.

Californians depend on SFEI to process data bound for CEDEN due to both its long track record of excellence and its balanced background in technology and interdisciplinary science. Please contact us if you would like help making your data publicly available.

More About the Regional Data Center

There are seven core services a Regional Data Center (RDC) provides. However, depending upon the resources and technical expertise available, not all of these services will be performed by each RDC. The tools described below may not be the same at all of the RDCs, since an RDC may modify a tool to meet internal or stakeholder needs.

1. Upload and check data

The service of uploading and checking data involves providing an online place for data generators to upload data to the RDC, checking that standard formats, codes, and quality assurance and control standards have been used in a dataset, and then loading results into a database or data mart. Tool development includes web-based data checkers and data-loading and QA/QC review queries.

2. Store and manage data

The service of storing and managing data includes the storage of data in a standard format (e.g., SWAMP v.2.5, star schema, project-specific database, Excel files, geodatabase), updating these data as errors are identified and procedures are modified (e.g., revising codes and adding/deleting fields), maintaining metadata, documentation, and promulgating data standards.

3. Exchange data

The service of exchanging data focuses on the back-end aspects required to exchange data with CEDEN and other systems in an automatic or semi-automatic way and the configuration and maintenance of servers, software, and documentation to facilitate this exchange.

4. Access data

The service of accessing data focuses on end-user interaction with the system, including user-defined queries, data download functionality, and visualization tools, such as dynamically generating charts and maps of environmental conditions, stressors, or management responses to undesirable conditions.

5. Coordinate and transfer technology

The service of coordinating and transferring technology involves working with the Monitoring Council, theme-based workgroups, and other RDCs to design, coordinate, and transfer tool development (e.g., providing code for tools, assisting with code modification, documenting code, establishing version control, sharing technical expertise and advise, troubleshooting).

6. Integrate data

The service of data integration is to integrate, analyze, and model data to produce a categorical answer to ecologically relevant management questions. This service explores new ideas for displaying meaningful ecological information in ways that environmental managers and the interested public can understand, and different approaches for answering theme-based questions and determining which datasets are relevant for formulating answers.

7. Audit data

While each project will perform a thorough QA/QC review of their data, an independent audit will also be performed to ensure the quality and accuracy of results being reported. Outcomes from these audits will be incorporated into the RDC database and used to flag and classify the data for different uses.

If you are interested in more details here are the steps typically associated with uploading data to SFEI's RDC.

How to Upload Data to CEDEN via SFEI's RDC

As a core collaborator, SFEI has extensive and trusted experience in uploading data to CEDEN. Below are the different steps for uploading your data. Of course, the most important step is realizing that we are here to help.

Any party collecting surface water quality data in California can submit data to the RDC and CEDEN. Minimum data quality standards are included in the data format templates employed by all the RDCs, which support sharing data across projects and accross the state.

1. Inform SFEI staff

Contact SFEI’s Data Services team [email protected] if you want to submit an environmental dataset to SFEI's RDC or make any corrections to existing data.

We will provide you with the appropriate data entry templates and documentation for your data type.

2. Populate templates

Use the CEDEN guidance and templates to format your dataset and include valid codes from the controlled vocabulary Lookup Lists.

Use the CEDEN Vocabulary Request Template to submit new codes. 

3. Use online data checker

Check the format and naming conventions of your data by using CEDEN's Data Checker.

Contact SFEI’s Data Services team [email protected] to add your agency if it is not is the list. 

4. Submit completed templates*

Email templates to SFEI at [email protected]. Staff will upload your data into the RDC and contact you with any questions or issues.

5. View and download data 

CEDEN staff will verify your data’s comparability with statewide standards before making data available on CEDEN’s Query Tool

Once in CEDEN, data will also be shared with other web tools, such as CD3 and the National Water Quality Portal.

* Datasets that have successfully passed Step 3 take 2-4 weeks to upload and appear on  CD3, depending on other project committments and available funding.

Questions? SFEI's Data Services team is happy to help you with any of the above steps. Contact us at [email protected].

View your data on CD3!


Programs and Focus Areas: 
Environmental Informatics Program
Data Services
Location Information
General Project Location(s): 
San Francisco Bay-Delta and northern montane regions