The CIEEM Code of Professional Conduct states that members shall “wherever possible, make scientific data collected during the course of their professional duties available to others such as records centres.”
However, sharing ecological survey data is not always straightforward – there can be issues around client permission, verification, data formats, and there can be a time and cost implication.
ALERC is working with the National Biodiversity Network Trust, the Biological Records Centre and the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management to develop a biodiversity data management website for ecological consultants.
Key features include:
· Data entry forms designed for specific survey methodologies.
· Data entry in the field (via smartphone or tablet) or in the office.
· The ability to set a data release date for each project as agreed with the client.
· A range of data download options including GIS formats.
· The ability to tag records as ‘sensitive’ to restrict their availability to only approved users.
The system will enable consultants to share their records without any extra effort. Data will be available to local environmental records centres through the ‘LRC download’ page on the iRecord website (www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord) and verified records will be shared via the NBN Gateway.
A steering group, which includes ALERC representation, has been set up to oversee development to ensure that the system fulfils consultants’ requirements and makes their work easier. The steering group members represent both large and small consultancies with specialism in a range of habitats and species. They began by describing the data they collect and the formats in which they present it to clients, and provided initial ideas on features they would like to see in a data management system. A specification was drawn up based on their suggestions and used to develop a prototype.
The steering group met at CEH Wallingford in May to spend a full day exploring the prototype and discussing options for further development. Their suggestions are now being incorporated and the prototype will shortly be available for testing by the steering group using real survey data.
The group will meet again in winter to discuss their experiences of using the system, then further refinement will take place prior to full release of the system in Spring 2014.
This project is funded by Defra through their contract for the development of the National Biodiversity Network.