the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Issue 4

Data, data everywhere

GiGL is more than just a database. GiGL is also both a highly experienced and skilled team of staff, and a partnership of major organisations and individuals. The audience for data continues to grow, with increasing numbers of organisations becoming partners, and more and more departments within those organisations requiring access to a reliable evidence base to inform their work.

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In the beginning …

From handwritten notes on scraps of torn paper to complex personalised databases, records come into GiGL in all sorts of different formats.

Most commonly, data are presented to GiGL as a simple list of species. Grid tables are a favourite with some recorders, who record combinations of the same species on differerent dates. Equally important are one-off records, which are often just ad-hoc sightings. They can be from both known recorders and members of the public and tend to be the ‘scraps of torn paper’ variety.

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Data validation & verification

The accuracy of the records we hold is essential. Our partners and other GiGL data users often base planning and conservation decisions on our data, and prioritise their work accordingly.They rely on the accuracy of that data to make sure that those decisions are appropriate and effective. With over three quarters of a million records in the database, ensuring the accuracy of every record is a daunting task. So how do we do it?

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Access to information

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.

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Information super-highway

In recent years GiGL has greatly increased its data holding, which now include over 3/4 million species and 75,000 habitat records, as well as comprehensive datasets on protected area and open space facilities. But what is it all for? Our partners’ data needs are as varied as the work that they do.They each require up-to-date information about London’s wildlife, but each partner places different demands on that data. Our ever improving data coverage, and the increased ruggedness and ‘interoperability’ of the data means our end users can integrate our data with their own systems and meet their own specific reporting needs.

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News – Issue 4

For the past year, The Royal Parks has funded a post within the GiGL team, responsible for the development of a biological records database within the agency. As a result of the first year of this project, the agency now has its own Recorder database with some of its higher priority data already imported and shared with GiGL.The Royal Parks has confirmed that it will continue to fund the post for a further year.

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