What is the NEON Assignable Assets Program?
- A program that makes available certain components of NEON's infrastructure and staff to members of the community to support their own research or other activities.
What is an Assignable Asset?
- Includes access to NEON infrastructure, AOP flight surveys, site coordination, labor pool of field ecologists, as well as engineering and science staff.
What kinds of projects are supported under the Assignable Assets Program?
- All kinds of projects that require use of NEON infrastructure to complete their research objectives, and do not interfere with NEON's own measurements, scope, or mission.
Who can request the use of NEON Assignable Assets?
- All researchers from universities, government agencies, and private sector companies.
How do I request support from the NEON's Assignable Assets Program?
- Fill out a request form to the appropriate component. Request forms can be found on the Assignable Assets Program webpage.
What are these acronyms: SI, OSI, MDP, FSC, AOP, LOS?
- SI = Sensor Infrastructure
- OSI = Observational Sampling Infrastructure
- MDP = Mobile Deployment Platform
- AOP = Airborne Observation Platform
- FSC = Field Site Coordination
- LOS = Letter of Support
Can I deploy additional sensors to the NEON sites?
- Yes. Submit a Sensor Infrastructure (SI) Request Form.
Can I do my own sampling at NEON sites?
- Yes. If you have your own research permits and site access permissions from the landowner or site host, and your own sampling does not interfere with NEON measurements or sampling. Submit a Observational Sampling Infrastructure (OSI) Request Form.
How long can my project remain at a NEON site?
- Initial projects are up to 5 years, but long-term projects are possible and reviewed every 5 years for renewal.
Is destructive sampling permitted at NEON sites?
If I want to do my own research activities at a NEON site, do I need to tell NEON beforehand?
- Yes. So, we can coordinate with you and provide information regarding NEON's sampling, infrastructure, site host relations, as well as provide insight into obtaining your own research permits for working at the site.
Where can I learn about NEON's current sampling protocols?
Where can I request samples from the NEON Biorepository?
- NEON Biorepository website: https://biorepo.neonscience.org/portal/
Will NEON host my Assignable Asset data?
- No. NEON does not host external researcher data. To increase discoverability of your Assignable Asset data, we can add links on the NEON website to your selected data publishing location. You can also partner or host your data at various data publishing locations (e.g. Environmental Data Initiative).
I have additional questions, who can I talk to?
Submissions, Request, and Timelines
Are there specific request forms to fill out?
- Yes. Forms are found on the Assignable Asset and Research Support webpage. Choose the correct request form based on the type of work that is related to your request.
How do I submit an Assignable Asset request?
- Email your request form to AssignableAssetRequests@BattelleEcology.org.
Where do I request a Letter of Support?
- Letters of Support (LOS) can be requested by filling out the Letter of Support request webform.
How much time does it take to get approval for a project request?
- Typically, 4 to 6 weeks. Submit your request at least 6 weeks prior to the date of your institution deadlines.
I have a short deadline; can I get approval, budget, and Letter of Support fast?
- Perhaps but not guaranteed if timeframe is less than two week. We will work as best we can to conduct all the appropriate reviews, pricing, and other necessary steps, but we ask submissions to be at least 6 weeks prior to your institution deadlines.
What additional information should I provide along with my Assignable Asset request?
- Detailed sampling protocols or standard operating procedures (SOP), maps, photos of instrument installations, tools used, links to manuals, site host permission or permits, etc.
Is it beneficial to provide a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) or protocol for my Assignable Asset related project?
- Yes. A more detailed SOP allows field ecologists to better understand what the intent of the research and activities are and provides better guidance for consistent sampling or instrument maintenance.
Costs and Budgets
How much will it cost?
- Costs for supporting a project will depend on the type of request, and complexity and amount of support required. Submit your request and we will work on providing a cost estimate.
Are Assignable Assets free-of-charge?
- Per NSF guidelines, research support via the NEON Assignable Assets Program is on a cost-recoverable basis. Support costs will vary depending on the type of support, and the amount of support needed.
What is a ROM?
- Stands for Rough Order of Magnitude. This is the initial cost estimate of supporting your project and can be used for initial budget planning purposes, or budget submissions with your research proposal.
Can I re-use a ROM for a different proposal?
- No. The provided ROM is specific to each Assignable Asset request and proposal submission.
What support do we provide to PIs in drawing up budgets?
- We work with the investigator to develop a reasonable estimate of the labor and travel required to support their project at NEON sites.
What if my project goes over the contracted budget?
- We will work up to, but not exceed, the amount of the contracted budget. If additional work is still needed, we will work with you on adjusting the budget, support effort, or update the contract.
Permits and Permissions
Will NEON do my permits?
- No. We can facilitate contact or introduce the researcher to the site host or landowners but permits and access permission are the responsibility of the researcher.
Can I use NEON's permits?
- No. But under very specific circumstances using NEON permits may be sufficient. These include if the sampling is the same as existing NEON sampling protocols, within NEON's permitted areas and conducted by NEON personnel. However, site hosts may still require that each researcher get their own permits.
Can NEON facilitate what kinds of permits I may need to work at a NEON site?
- Yes. We can facilitate contact or introduce researchers to the site host or landowners. Also see the NEON Assignable Asset Site Access Information spreadsheet for site host information and contacts.
What support does NEON provide PIs in obtaining permits for field work?
- We can facilitate contact or introduce researchers to the site host or landowners. We can also provide some guidance on what types of permits may be needed. We do not prepare draft agreements, nor provide sample agreements.
Is a contract necessary to implement my research support?
- Yes. Approved and funded Assignable Assets will require a contract between Battelle and your institution prior to any work being done.
Who is responsible for implementing my research support?
- A NEON Field Operations Manager will be responsible for scheduling the field work, ensure the work is conducted as agreed, and providing the project deliverables.
Our contract with Battelle and my institution was signed. Now what?
- Our implementation lead will be in contact with you. Once we have a contract in place, our teams will schedule your work. You can start finalizing sampling kits or sensors for shipping.
How do I communicate with NEON project leads once my work begins?
- You will be invited to a Microsoft Teams Group specific to your project. We will provide instruction on gaining access to the "Posts" feature of Microsoft Teams for communicating with your NEON project leads.
I need to alter my protocol or SOP in the middle of the field season, how should this be handled?
Reach out to the NEON Field Operations Manager, or project lead. We understand the need for flexibility and can adopt new practices once communicated.
I want to visit a site to participate in some of the research activities. Can I do this?
- Yes. Investigator support in the field is often helpful, especially at the beginning of projects as we are trying out new protocols or installing equipment. We ask you to work with the local domain project leads to schedule and coordinate the time. Please be aware we normally have a large list of activities to do in the field and may not be able to provide a tour or other demonstrations (unless otherwise arranged).
Can I use NEON's power and communications or deploy additional sensors to NEON sites?
- Yes. Our systems are designed to accommodate additional research equipment. These are reviewed for feasibility prior to approval of your request.
How will I be charged?
- The contract provides details on all these provisions.
Field Site Coordination
What does Field Site Coordination (FSC) mean?
- Field Site Coordination describes our approach for coordinating external research on NEON sites. Generally, this category is reserved for researchers performing their own research on or near NEON study plots or infrastructure with little or no assistance from NEON staff. Field Site Coordination includes communication with local NEON domain staff to facilitate permissions (if needed), site access information, assistance locating NEON study plots, or timing your research activity with NEON planned visits. Our staff will work with you to ensure you have site access information you need to complete your project and ensure your research is not impacting NEON data. External researchers will still have to have their own permits and permissions from the site host.
How do I go about applying for or requesting Field Site Coordination?
- Visit the Field Site Coordination webpage and fill out the webform on the site.
I'm only interested in one NEON site. Should I contact the NEON Domain Manager directly?
- We prefer you to coordinate with the centralized NEON Assignable Asset team by filling in the appropriate request form. This allows us provide consistent coordination and ensure you have the support needed. In some instances, you may not need to collaborate formally due to little or no interaction with NEON research
Will NEON contact site hosts for me?
- Generally, no. Contacting site hosts is your responsibility. In a few specific situations, our Domain Managers will help facilitate this contact. For additional site and site host details see the NEON Assignable Asset Site Access Information spreadsheet.
I have been conducting research at a NEON site for years, do I need to apply for NEON Field Site Coordination?
- No. You do not have to fill out a Field Site Coordination form if you already have site host permits or permission. We do ask researchers to fill out a Field Site Coordination request form if your research areas physically overlap with NEON plots. We also ask researchers to fill out a form as a courtesy to NEON, other researchers, and our site hosts so we can assist providing site-specific information (like for e.g., NEON sampling plots), known limitations and permits that external researcher may not be aware of, and so NEON or your sampling will not affect each other's work.
Letters of Support (LOS)
Where can I request a Letter of Support?
Do I need a LOS for my proposal if I am using data from the NEON Data Portal?
- No. Please simply indicate in your proposal text that the NEON data you intend to use are free and openly available.
How long does it take to get a Letter of Support?
- Please allow a minimum of two weeks to process your request.
Collaborating with NEON
Can a NEON staff member be a Co-I on my proposal?
- Yes, use the NEON Staff page for contact information and coordinate with them directly.
Can NEON staff be a co-author on my paper?
How do I reach out to a NEON scientist if I want to work with them on a project?
- You can contact them directly via the NEON Staff page.
Sensor Infrastructure (SI)
What is the Sensor Infrastructure?
- Includes the tower, instrument hut, soil arrays, aquatic mounting locations, aquatic buoys, power and communications infrastructure, boardwalks, and other aspects that involve structures or hardware at NEON sites.
What types of things can be put on NEON's sensor infrastructure?
- Sensors, dataloggers, computers, antennas, mounting hardware, or any device that can be installed on or around any of the NEON infrastructure. This includes installations of sensors or instruments into the ground.
Do I need a permit to install sensors on NEON's infrastructure?
- Typically, yes. But this depends on what is being installed. This is at the discretion of the site host or landowner and is on a site-by-site and case-by-case basis. Any sensor installation that involves ground disturbance may require additional site surveys and permits.
Observational System Infrastructure (OSI)
What is NEON’s Observational System Infrastructure?
- Using the OSI request form investigators can request access to NEON sampling locations or additional data/sample collection by NEON’s professional field ecologists to support investigator projects.
Can I request NEON staff conduct sampling outside of existing NEON sites?
- Yes, NEON will consider the feasibility of performing ecological collections at locations other than existing NEON sites. Note that requests of this nature will likely include additional travel, lodging, and permitting considerations.
My request includes work that is not similar to NEON standard protocols, is this okay?
- Yes, after you submit the request form with the details completed to the best of your knowledge the Assignable Asset team will work with you to clarify details and finalize a feasible scope of work. It’s helpful if you have sampling protocol and procedures to share but not necessary to begin engaging with the Assignable Asset team.
Airborne Observation Platform (AOP)
What are the primary considerations for planning an AOP Assignable Asset survey over my area of interest?
- AOP will work with you to determine the area to be flown; the optimum timing of the flights; resolution of the spectrometer, lidar and camera data; and any coincident field measurements required. Once these have been finalized, an initial cost estimate will be provided that includes data processing and delivery.
What are the main constraints?
- Clouds negatively impact the quality of airborne spectrometer data, so AOP typically flies in clear sky conditions when cloud cover is below 10%. If you would like AOP to collect spectroscopic imagery, extra days may need to be budgeted to ensure sufficient time is available as weather contingency.
- To improve hyperspectral data, flights are conducted when solar angle elevation is greater than 40 degrees which limits the amount of collection time in a day. Some situations may allow reducing the angle to 35 degrees.
- While operating the lidar sensor, AOP surveys at altitudes that are safe for people on the ground who may be looking at the aircraft through binoculars. This puts a lower limit on the spatial resolution of the data AOP collects.
- Airspace restrictions may limit the locations or altitudes that AOP is permitted to fly. These include airspace near major airports, military operations areas (MOA’s), and over national parks and wilderness areas. AOP will work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure safe and efficient collection of your data.
How does scheduling of an AOP Assignable Asset work? Can I combine my data collections with those already being conducted by NEON AOP?
- As per NSF guidance, NEON data collections take priority over Assignable Asset collections. However, AOP will try to fit your Assignable Asset request into the flight schedules of the aircraft surveying NEON sites, thereby covering the cost of payload installation, instrument calibration, etc. If your survey area is large, far from the NEON sites scheduled to be flown, or require surveys at a different time of year, a separate, dedicated payload may be required.
What are the standard data collection parameters?
- AOP conducts flight collections at a nominal altitude of 1,000m above ground resulting in 1m pixels for hyperspectral data, 5-10cm for camera data and no less than 2-4 points per square meter (ppm2) for lidar data.
Is it possible to install a different sensor on the aircraft?
- Usually no. NEON aircraft require FAA-rated modifications to install and operate. Current instrument packages occupy most of the available space and weight. There may be options to incorporate additional instruments, but the project will have to fund integration and aircraft certification.
How much does data cost per square kilometer?
- AOP data collections are complicated and are difficult to price at a specific rate. A cost estimate will be made as part of the request process. NEON charges based on direct reimbursement.