Lauren Alexander, GiGL’s Senior Information Officer, introduces the art of extracting bespoke information from GiGL’s data holdings.
The GiGL data search service is a ‘one-stop shop’ for those seeking comprehensive biodiversity and open space information for any area within Greater London. All data held on our database are pulled into searches, giving customers information from a wide range of sources, and making trawling for data a quick and easy task.
Access to biodiversity information seems to be an increasing priority. More and more guidance to ecological consultants, planners, developers and public bodies advises the use of local records centres to ensure biodiversity is considered in everyday situations.
And the news of our valuable service is spreading. Although the majority of searches are still for consultants, increasing numbers of students and members of the general public, concerned about development proposals in their local area, find their way to us.The huge increase in GiGL’s data holdings over the past couple of years – we now hold almost twice as many species records as we held two years ago – has improved the quality of our data search service immensely. These improvements have been noticed by our customers who place increasing demands on those data. In the past year we completed a record breaking 549 data searches, compared to 366 the previous year.
So what exactly do you get as part of a data search? A standard search is sent out as a hard-copy report, although GiGL’s partners and those working on behalf of GiGL’s partners can also receive data electronically. Reports can contain some or all of the following, depending on your requirements:
- Statutory site information. Local, national and international designated sites. Provided as maps and corresponding ‘citations’ – site-specific information including descriptions and information on when and why the site has been designated.
- Non-statutory site information. Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), Areas of Deficiency and London Wildlife Trust reserves. Provided as maps with corresponding citations.
- Species data. Protected and BAP priority species records, or all species records if required. Provided as a list with the date, protected status and the distance and direction of each record from the search location.
- Habitat survey data. Displayed as survey ‘parcels’ on a map with a corresponding habitat list.
- Open space data. Displayed as maps showing green belt, metropolitan open land and survey parcels with a corresponding list of facilities, planning status and access information.
A search can be tailored to meet the requirements of the customer. For example, if information on just one species or species group, such as water voles or bats, is needed, we can adapt the report accordingly. The search can also cover any specified area, including linear corridors and grid squares. Most commonly, a circular search area is created by ‘buffering’ the search site by between 500 metres and 2 kilometres.
To request a data search, you just need to submit a request form. The simplest way to do this is to register your details on our website, www.gigl.org.uk, and complete the form on the ‘data search’ page.
Once the form has been submitted the report will be sent to you within ten working days. Our current charges are detailed at the top of the form, although the general public, students, residents’ groups etc. can use the service free of charge, at GiGL’s discretion.We also have a charity rate, making information accessible to all.
If you have any queries about the service please get in touch.
We are always happy to consider the development of new products and services in collaboration with our partners. We are also interested in the possibility of sourcing and managing new datasets, whether they’re related to biodiversity, open spaces or an entirely new subject. It was the convenience of a centralised resource of biodiversity data for London that saw the start of the GiGL partnership; broadening the range of data we manage and make available has further increased the number of organisations involved with GiGL.
GiGL added the sourcing, management and provision of open space data (see Issue 3 of the GiGLer) to its remit when the Greater London Authority asked GiGL to act as data custodian for the results of their open space and habitat survey programme.These data complement our partners’ biodiversity data, enabling the GiGL team to ask increasingly complex questions of the data we hold. Are there any other types of data that you need to help you meet other requirements? Any other data you would like us to source? Do you own other datasets that you feel would be useful to GiGL partners too?
If you would like to discuss working with GiGL on developing the range of data that we make available, please get in touch. Mandy Rudd, GiGL Director.