BCSIMS Instrumentation Metadatabase UBC Civil Engineering - EERF

Project Description

The BCSIMS Instrumentation Metadatabase is an Access database designed to store information on each seismic monitoring station in BC.

Project Details

  • Fixed multiple bugs preventing users from accessing data
  • Added ability to add new monitoring stations to the database
  • Added search function to allow a user to search for relevant files
  • Redesigned the interface to be more user friendly and interactive
  • Added the ability to generate Summary Reports for each monitoring station


  • Microsoft Access
  • VBA

The Problem

There are earthquake monitoring stations all over the province of British Columbia, some of which have been set up and are maintained by UBC's Earthquake Engineering Research Facility (EERF). Detailed records need to be kept on all these stations. This has typically been done by keeping notes in binders and file folders, all kept by different individuals.

Over the years these binders have grown large and are time consuming to look through, so finding what you are looking for is hit and miss. In addition, there is only one binder per station, so only one person can access a station’s records at any given time.

The Solution

I was hired to finish building an Access database with the purpose of consolidating data from every monitoring station maintained by the EERF. The database tables had already been created, but there was no easy way of looking at the data. I broke down the project as follows:

  • 1) Fix the current issues with the database.
  • 2) Redesign the interface to make it easier to navigate.
  • 3) Add features to make the database simpler to use, for example: add a station, require a user login and quickly search through the attachments (technical drawings, photos, diagrams).

In addition, I assisted with entering data from the binders and hard copy file folders into the database. As part of this, I had the opportunity to join a team in the field conducting upgrades to a station in order to document the changes they were making.

I was later asked to add another capability to the database: Station Reports. The idea behind these was to quickly produce a summary of the most important and practical information on a station. You can see the cover page of one of these reports below. Due to confidentiality considerations, some of the information has been removed.

A Station Report gives an overview of a seismic monitoring station.

Me, out collecting data at one of the seismic monitoring stations.