Swarm - Vision Statement
DISCLAIMER: what follows is a draft document that is to be intended as a guideline and set of goals for possible future program development and improvement. By no means, none of the features hinted or listed below is guaranteed to be implemented any time soon, if ever at all.
What is Swarm for?
SWARM, Seismic Wave Analysis and Real-time Monitoring tool, is an application created to make easily accessible to the public (amateur seismologists and students in particular) the most used tools used in seismology to study and monitor seismic waves, yet offer all the power and fine tuning needed by scientists and professionals in this field.
In a panorama of complex, often fragmentary tools with command-line interfaces, SWARM offers, to the limits of what is possible for such a complex field without hindering power and functionality, a graphical user interface-only approach prioritizing rapid deployment and ease of use. In other words, untrained people should be able to quickly (less than one minute) set up a typical SWARM view and start being productive (monitoring/analysis) during seismic crises.
The monitoring aspect of SWARM is intended to offer a clear real-time clear of seismic data in for widely different target groups: the analyst, who will perhaps favour smaller and more detailed time windows; the amateur, who will probably find more appealing a broader, yet still detailed big picture of seismic activity in a certain area; the general public, for whom automatically operated, simpler kiosk views will be of more interest. Ultimately, since usage needs especially among the more skilled people might vary, configurability and the ability to display detailed information remains a priority in all views.
The analysis aspect of SWARM is geared mainly toward seismologists (professionals and amateurs) and students. A wide palette of tools of which the main scope is making the identification of signals easier, is provided. Special care is made to audio analysis, which takes advantage of human ears' advantage in pattern recognition over eyesight. This is strongly reflected in the user interface, which where applicable, will be familiar to people with experience with audio editing applications. Seismic signals are waveforms as audio signals, therefore the same principles and possible operations are applicable.
An important feature that increases ease of use, deployment speed and analysis capabilities is the map view. The map provides a view of the Earth, on which earthquakes from a number of catalogues updated in real-time are plotted. In addition to these, volcanoes (either active or inactive) and seismic stations from loaded seismic networks are also plotted. In case of earthquake swarms, or otherwise noteworthy seismic and volcanic events it is possible to select one or more seismic stations and plot their data either directly on the map (in various reduced formats) or in new windows. Being able to quickly select and open many seismic stations at once is one of the strong points of this feature. Other than quick selection of seismic stations, the map also features several tools for a quick and rough estimation of earthquake locations.
In addition to monitoring and analysis functionalities, SWARM also provides a batch of automation tools and common operations in seismology such as waveform retrieval, batch format conversion, data import&export, integration with the most widely used applications in the field.
A learning tool, too
Ultimately, a catalog of typical textbook-quality seismic events with peer reviewed commentary is also provided. This is of course not intended to be a seismology handbook or course, but rather a quick reference and starting point for the interpretation of seismic signals. One of the main goals of SWARM is to make access to seismic data easier; the consecutive step from that is to clear out confusion and common misconceptions on the matter among the general public (or even the seemingly informed); in other words, to also work as a learning assist tool.
What SWARM is
- A tool for analysis, monitoring and public outreach of seismic data
- A program that can be deployed quickly and effortlessly
- A program completely operated through a graphical user interface
What SWARM is not
- A collection of command-line tools
- A clone of existing applications (although it might take many ideas from them)
- A program requiring manual configuration file editing for fine tuning and advanced options