Environmental Protection Agency RAPID ASSESSMENT TOOLS (R.A.T.) OVERVIEW  

Rapid Assessment Tools Software (R.A.T.) is a Microsoft Windows based software package developed by EPA Region 5 FIELDS Team that provides field teams real-time field data collection and mapping. Specifically the software enables users to: 1. Collect data in real-time from GPS and environmental monitoring devices using their digital data outputs. 2. Integrate device data with descriptive data in a standard ESRI Shapefile. 3. Generate polygons, lines, and point sample designs. 4. View collected data with reference datasets (e.g. aerials, roads, and facilities). 5. Perform simple interpolations and view statistics, histograms, and trend plots. 6. Export data as ESRI Shapefiles, SCRIBE database (.csv) and Access database. 7. Send automated data transfers via e-mail. 8. View data collection remotely via FTP server.

Home

R.A.T._Home
Functions
  • Visualization
  • Data Acquisition
  • Data Management
    • Statistical Analysis
    • Sample Plan Development
     
    Input
  • Tabular File: *.csv
  • Graphical File: *.jpg, *.tif (with associated world files, *.jgw, *.tfw); *.shp and *.dxf.; ASCII grids
  • Output
    • Tabular File: *.dbf
    • Graphical File: *.shp, *.dxf, *.jpg
    • Print Report: Not directly
    Contaminants
    • Chlorinated Solvents
    • SVOCs
    • Metals
    • Petroleum
    • Radionuclide
    Media
    • Soil
    • Air
    Technical Team Members
    • Air Quality Specialist
    • Engineer
    • Geochemist
    • Field Staff
    Comments  
     
    R.A.T. - installation
    The software page is easily downloaded from the website. However, an error message appeared during installation, indicating that an extension was not found. The problem was addressed with the help of an IT professional.
    • Bluetooth wireless hardware reserves COM ports for devices. Performance is affected because Bluetooth COM ports interfere with the ability of R.A.T. to set up external devices for data collection. The R.A.T. developers currently recommend that users disable Bluetooth wireless while using R.A.T. software.
     
    R.A.T. - data loading
    • Data is collected real-time through connected environmental monitors. Software home page provides a list of instruments that can be automatically identified and read by R.A.T., a list which currently includes widely-used radiation, air monitoring and XRF instruments. See R.A.T. home page for list of models that are fully integrated with R.A.T. .
    • Any device with RS-232 digital output could potentailly communicate with R.A.T. Users are encouraged to fill out a Software Feedback Form and send to R.A.T. developers to get new devices integrated with future versions of R.A.T..
    R.A.T. can communicate with any GPS device that is capable of transmitting National Marine Electronics Association serial data standard (NMEA) output through a serial port adapter..
     
    R.A.T. - graphic loading
    • Associated image files are uploaded to R.A.T. from hard drive or CD in *.jpg, *.tif, *.shp, *.dxf.
     
    R.A.T. - logical flow
    The R.A.T. Exercises Manual explains the logical flow of hookup with the environmental monitoring device to the uploading of aerial images for viewing real-time collected data.
    • The basic steps to setting up the software to collect data real-time: 1) Set the GPS and external devices according to those being used, explained in Help manual; 2) Create new file and save. 3) Upload aerial photograph of the study area; 4) Create threshold values and legend for collected data; 5) Collect data using one of 4 options; 5) View collected data in graphical and text form, including basic statistics.
    • R.A.T. provides sample design tools that have been imported from the FIELDS extensions for ArcView. The four designs that are offered are Judgmental, Simple Random, Aligned Grid (Hotspot) and Unaligned Grid. The appropriate application for each is explained in the Help manual starting on page 35.
    • R.A.T. has a built-in contouring function that provides a first approximation interpolation of the collected data points using a natural neighbor algorithm. The interpolation aids in the visualization of contaminated plumes in the field and can help prepare a secondary sample design by identifying areas of concern. (This function was not evaluated).
     
    R.A.T. - expert knowledge
    • When using the sample design function, the user should have expert knowledge of the site from which the data is being collected.
    • User should have knowledge of the function of the environmental monitoring devices that are connected to the RAT software package.
     
    R.A.T. - functionality
    • The software package includes a training folder. The help manual walks through a simulation of data collection. However, the training files are automatically saved in C:\Program Files\RAT\Training\. The software package does not allow for two names to be in a file name. The files were moved to C:\RAT\Training.
    • The help manual indicates that data for individual points can be view by clicking on the "Identify" button and then selecting one of the collected points and a popup will open with relevant information. This function did not work when evaluating the program.
    Files are saved before any data collection begins. Once the data has been collected the only field that is editable in the RAT database file is the notes field. This ensures that raw data is only changed when data is being analyzed.
     
    R.A.T. - new or upgraded features
    • R.A.T. 2.0 became available for download on December 15, 2006. (This new version of the software was not evaluated for the matrix.) Version 2.0 of R.A.T. now requires the installation of Microsoft® .NET Framework Version 1.1 in order to run. The R.A.T. installation program will check your system for the software and, if you do not have it, install it automatically.  Previous versions of R.A.T. (through version 1.5.26) were coded using the Visual Basic® development system.  R.A.T. developers strongly advise users to upgrade to Version 2.0.
     
    R.A.T. - documentation
    • The R.A.T. User's Manual should be read before the software package is used. Following the RAT Simulation Data Collection is a good introduction in how to use the program and the logical flow of events when using the program. However, unless the software package is installed on a laptop and connected to an environmental monitor the real functions of the software package can not be evaluated. However, the User's Manual does have a Field Exercise and the steps associated, if a environmental monitor was connected.
    • The User Manual has graphics of all popup windows associated with the software package.
    • Macromedia Flash Animated Screen Capture Tutorials are now available for download from the R.A.T. website.  These tutorials are movies that demonstrate, click-by-click, how to perform many of the basic functions of R.A.T., including setting up a GPS device, detecting a monitoring device, creating Shapefiles, recording and viewing data points, and exporting data. A Macromedia Flash Player must be installed on the system in order to view these tutorials.
     
    R.A.T. - output
    • R.A.T. creates two types of files for collected data: shapefiles and master files. A shapefile is created for every sensor while a master file is created for each device. Master fields cannot be viewed in RAT directly but are viewed in Microsoft Access or Excel.
    • RAT stores collected data as a *dbf file primarily.
    • RAT can be exported directly to an FTP site using the integrated FTP function.
    RAT allows you to save the view as a JPEG image for export to other users or for making quicker paper maps. The "Save Image" option saves the screen as a JPEG image; however, data can be copied to the clipboard so that it can be pasted into any application and then saved in the appropriate format.
    R.A.T. - sources
    Version 1.4 downloaded November 14, 2006..
    • User's Manual.
    • Help Menus.
    • Example Simulation.
    Note that this DST matrix is under active construction. Comments and suggestions about the structure
    or content of this website should be sent to Mike Adam .
    This web site contains technology information from private contractors and government agencies and is for informational purposes only. EPA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the data. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service, by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or favor of the United States Government.