The Best Practices for Geophysical Data Management
Data holds incredible value. The proper management of geophysical data is critical to the success of any exploration or harvesting project; anything gathered from the field has to be analyzed and that requires it to be easily available to the geoscientist. There’s little room for error in a highly competitive industry with massive investments. Geophysical data is complex; without the right management, big data can become inaccessible, creating problems and costing money.
All companies handling geophysical data stand to benefit from an effective management system. Data management done right leads to improved decision-making and, ultimately, a more profitable organization. It is important to understand how to manage data and optimize processes.
How is this accomplished? Below are five of the best practices for managing geophysical data.
Invest in the Right Software
Many industry players are operating on old, outdated geophysical data management systems. Due to this, companies miss out on the better efficiency, reliability, functionality, and power available in modern software. As technology pushes forwards, oil and gas companies need to stay on the leading edge of geophysical trends and that includes optimizing data systems.
Getting the right software is a key step towards better data management for the company. One of the best steps a company can take to manage data efficiently is to invest in the most up-to-date, adaptable technology available. The right software will give the company a tool to make the most of its data, by collecting, cleaning, and enriching the data, providing analytics, and ensuring ease of access.
Thanks to the efficiency and speed of modern technology, this delivers the most accurate data on time. The right software will also adapt to suit the geophysical data and work with other tech or systems.
Identifying the right software is crucial; the wrong kind can cause all sorts of problems for a company. The system may be too large or small for business needs, insecure, or too complex to learn and train others how to use.
Follow Proper Security Protocol
Without proper geophysical data management tools, it is not easy to ensure that data is secure. Good data management software ensures that information is always safe — whether it’s at the collection, storage, or access points. Having a security protocol alongside the software means that the system keeps data secure.
Some data security protocol best practices include:
Educate and Document Company Security Standards for All Team Members
It is good practice to document company security protocols, policies, and standards and make each team member aware of them. It is not enough to use word of mouth or expect them to know about good security intuitively. Conduct regular training and workshops with real-life examples to ensure the entire organization is updated on security protocols.
Use Only Secure Internet and WiFi Connections
Network security shields the system from unauthorized entry by unauthorized users. Most larger companies will already have a strong intrusion prevention and detection system in place; check with the IT department or vendor to see what they’re doing. Other securities over the internet tools include using virtual private networks for point-to-point or site-to-site communications, and firewalls at the point of ingress, as well as between operational groups within the company LAN itself.
Have Unique Credentials
Passwords are only effective when they are only in the hands of those who should have them. A typical way of keeping passwords secure is by prohibiting the sharing of credentials amongst employees.
Sharing credentials leaves your company open to risks:
- Team members that normally wouldn’t have access to certain sensitive data may be able to view it
- Reused passwords on other sites are a gateway for massive data breaches
- Sending credentials over email creates vulnerability to phishing attacks
Train your entire team to keep their passwords private to avoid risking the system’s security.
Aside from sharing credentials, other password best practices include:
- Use unique passwords
- Use a mixture of both upper and lower case letters
- Use password managers to keep track of long passwords
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most effective data protection strategies. It enforces security at your data access points by adding an extra authentication step before accessing the system. This means that even when the first line of credentials are compromised, there’s still another one to keep your data safe. Effective authentication factors include security tokens, USB-based keys, and app-based authentication tools. While still common, SMS-based MFA is regarded as less secure due to the prevalence of SIM-card masquerading.
Monitor Third-Party Access to Data
In the geophysical industry, partnership with other operators is common. Suppliers, clients, vendors, and other partners may have access to core business systems due to their needs. Many companies do not have a formal policy regulating how third parties interact with their systems.
Keep a close eye on how third parties access sensitive or confidential data from the business to reduce the risk of it ending up in the wrong hands. Using proper security protocols also helps the company to maintain compliance with the regulatory authorities in the industry and countries of operation.
Standardize Your Approach
The volume of data available at most companies’ disposal has grown exponentially over the years. One of the best practices to keep it secure is to have a set of standards for data. Everyone who interacts with your data needs to follow these rules.
Some of the data standards that you can create include:
- Rules that guide the formatting of data and metadata. File naming and cataloging are critical to the proper management of geophysical data. Appropriately named data facilitates easy access. It also reduces the risk of confusion when analyzing the data.
- Where types of data are stored and who has access to what information. Sensitive data should be protected; regulate what levels of access qualify for various data types.
- Protocols on how to and with whom to share data. Standards ensure how the data is securely transmitted to the recipient and that it serves its intended purpose. Plans should be in place for when sensitive data is sent to the wrong party.
Having a standardized approach to data policies will help keep data remains well-organized and secure. Having a repeatable process that all members of the teams know reduces the risk for error.
Lean on Your Experts
As more sophisticated technology becomes available to the industry, geophysical data is now collected at an ever-increasing rate. The high incoming volume of data makes its management more difficult and challenging. As such, the management of big geophysical data should not be left to one department but handled with a holistic approach from experts throughout your organization.
It is paramount for companies to put their data scientists, analysts, and project managers in the right positions with appropriate access to needed data and tools. Hiring data experts or outsourcing to compensate for missing skills may be required.
Subject matter experts can bring a fresh eye to the data and often spot the key insights required to move forward throughout the exploration and harvesting process. As they also have a better understanding of the data collected, they can spot potential risks and provide proactive solutions. This increases the chances that the data analysis and decision-making steps will be successful.
To effectively work with these experts in your team, appropriately assign access to data. While systems should never allow unauthorized access, accessing the system shouldn’t be a headache for legitimate users who need to work with the data daily. Set up the appropriate credentials for each expert depending on the type and volume of data they need to work effectively; security groups will simplify the process if there is a pool of users with common needs, rather than setting up permissions on a one-by-one basis.
Prioritize Data Quality and Cleanliness
Geophysical operations yield plenty of data. However, information is only as good as it is verifiable. Therefore, it is the top priority of every company to have clean, trusted data to base its decisions on.
Geophysical data can be complicated, so teams need to constantly make sure that they are putting in an appropriate amount of time and effort to document and analyze the data.
To start, ensure high data quality at the point of data collection. While some systems may be automated, the data still needs to be checked for accuracy. Data entry rules, automatic naming systems, and constraints are some of the tools used to ease accurate data entry. Training the team members who create and use these systems is vital to ensuring that all the data is correctly entered.
Check the relevance of data. Information sometimes becomes outdated and can be irrelevant — or worse, misleading — for decision-making processes. Even with a fairly accurate input system, regularly check and clean the data before using it for analysis. This adds a level of quality control and keeps the data valuable for use.
Data quality and cleanliness aren’t exclusively based on the system’s side. Instill a culture of vigilance, efficiency, and accuracy in your team with performance objectives, incentives, and penalties.
The Future of Geophysical Data Management
Proper geophysical data management isn’t easy to pull off without the right systems, standards, and security protocols. However, with an investment in the right software and data management team, it’s quite possible to effectively manage geophysical data alongside proper security and data quality systems.
Looking for a geophysical data management system for your company? Talus Technologies, the team behind the Exploration Archives software, has developed an incredibly powerful and effective data management system for exploration and production (E&P) companies. Exploration Archives is a robust yet simple to use software suite that can manage all of your seismic data.
We understand that proper geophysical data management isn’t just about software. That’s why our solutions include extensive collaboration during the consultation and discovery phases. We’ll also work with you to customize the software for your business needs and help you transition smoothly into the new system for all end-users.
Our clients see increased productivity, fewer costs, and cleaner data compared to those using other systems on the market. Book a call with us today and find out how you can manage your geophysical data better with Exploration Archives.