National Biodiversity Data Center Ireland

Interaction Type public -> government.
Trigger Event NBDC strategy to encourage the submission of biodiversity records by the general public.
Domain Update and submission of data to Ireland’s National Biodiversity Databases
Organisation National Biodiversity Data Center Ireland
Actors NDBC and the Irish Biodiversity Community (in particular University researchers).
Data sets in use Observations are collected mainly through HTML forms. Data is displayed on Google Maps and Google Charts interfaces
Process Citizens simply enter their observations through the appropriate HTML forms on the NBDC website. Observational data is checked internally in NBDC and then made available for access and visualisation on the online maps and charts.  Data is submitted by email for large and possibly incorrectly formatted observations.
Feedback Data is quickly checked and made available for access and visualisation on an online map. Those who submit their data to the system can access this data in the future.
Goal The NDBC leverages the potential of outreach groups for data survey and observation thus widening the base from which observational data may be obtained.
Side effects This field lists any possible cases or factors that have been revealed or generated during the data sharing and the cooperation of the crowd with the authorities (eg. IPRs) (if applicable).
Contact Point Dr. Liam Lysaght National Biodiversity Data Centre, Carriganore, WIT West Campus, Waterford, Ireland

The National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) initiated this project to leverage the potential of outreach groups and the general public for data survey and observation. This widens the base from which observational biodiversity data may be obtained in Ireland. The NDBC also launched this project with an aim to initiate a stronger engagement of non-professional scientists and heighten the understanding of biodiversity related matters in the general population in Ireland. There is a good tradition of observational work being performed by volunteer community groups in Ireland.

All of the systems and software are housed at NDBC. Contributors are also given assistance in working out grid references for their records, observations, and sightings. The system provides online forms for recording of observations but these can be also submitted in bulk via email if the contributor has collected a lot of data. Since June 2012 there have been over 61,000 records submitted, validated, and stored in the NDBC databases. Approximately 1,600 records are submitted per month. NDBC also makes these data available to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is a network of 80 participants worldwide working on an open biodiversity data infrastructure, funded by governments. It allows anyone, anywhere to access data about all types of life on Earth, shared across national boundaries via the Internet. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is Ireland’s GBIF node and contributes Irish data to the more than 400 million biodiversity records mobilised through the GBIF data portal. For the submission of observational data there are species forms and site-based forms. The species forms include Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles, Bumblebees, Dragonfiles, etc. Site-based forms allow a much more detailed recording of biodiversity information. The data from these forms and collections are extracted and merged with other datasets in the NBDC for insertion into their spatial databases. Data is submitted through the web-application or by email (for large and maybe incorrectly formatted observations). Data is quickly checked and made available for access and visualisation on an online map. Those who submit their data to the system can access this data in the future.

An example of the web-based form for the submission of Ladybird observations to the NBDC. There are additional fields which are not visible in this sceenshot.

When there is particular need for observation or data collection for a specific species there is a call for “species in focus” where the importance, reasonsing, and biodiversity importance of a specific species is outlined. The NBDC ensure that the contributors have their efforts well recognised and advertised online. For example there is an annual distinguished recorder award presented to the person who has shown outstanding contribution to the recording and documenting of Ireland’s biological diversity. This is very important in recognising the work of the volunteers who submit data to initiatives like this. Workshops are also held on a frequent basis which report on the progress of this project, the types of uses that this data is being put to, and how the project can be sustained and improved. The use of events such as Bioblitz (held annually) involves the general public in biodiversity data collection events which have an aspect of fun and competition.

Main Lessons

  • The NBDC considers feedback for contributors as a very important aspect of this project. This can be established in many forms. For example personal contact with contributors, publishing information on the website (“we have x records this month”), to awards such as the Distinguished Contributor Award
  • Several options are provided for citizens to contribute their biodiversity observations. The website and forms are flexible to allow citizens complete as many of the form fields as they can. Those citizens with greater levels of detail and higher resolution data are also catered for in the same forms.
  • All of the web-based forms allow contributors to provide as much information as they have available. Subsequently there can be great diversity in the resolution of data provided to the NBDC. Before data are submitted and inserted in to the NBDC databases there is some manual and automated checking controls before on the contributed data.

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