Mandy Rudd, GiGL Chief Executive
If at first you don’t succeed, look in your ‘deleted items’ for the instructions.
Information overload. We’re all suffering from it. Our inboxes are full of direct emails and newsletters. The internet is awash with information that would change our lives, if only we had time to read it. We filter it all according to our workloads, our mental and emotional capacity, and the perceived importance of the content and source. And yet, there are some published materials we really should read – to be inspired, to ensure we understand the rules we’ve signed up to, or to ensure the pile of MDF in front of us ends up as a functioning Ikea chest of drawers, instead of a pile of firewood.
Thank you for getting to the second paragraph. Recipients of GiGL communications sometimes don’t get this far. Recent ‘skimmers’ have missed out on training opportunities and replied to an email asking questions of the team that were answered further on in the same email. Some even denied all knowledge of GiGL’s new community interest company status in reply to the very email that set out these changes.
I’m being frivolous, but there are consequences to not reading what we send. The potential consequences of not reading our policies, licences, data guides and news updates are many, including making decisions based on incomplete data, terms and conditions of supply being breached and, just as importantly, missing opportunities to get more out of our services.
The following quotes are fictional but are based on recent incidents. They reflect a lack of understanding of our services that could easily be avoided by reading basic information.
“Wouldn’t it be good if there was an organisation that centralises information on London’s natural environment.”
“But they sell our data.”
“I have accessed the NBN Gateway and MAGIC websites so my understanding of my search area is comprehensive.”
“Can you give me a discount on your service because a) I’m going to supply data in return, or, b) my enquiry covers more than one records centre’s remit and is going to cost my client a fortune.”
“Can you supply data electronically as it will save me time typing in the records from your data search report?”
“Don’t worry about sending the data. Organisation X has already given it to me.”
“We haven’t factored GiGL’s services into our project. Can’t you just give us your data for free?”
“We’re not allowed to publish your data without permission? Oh well, it’s on our website now so it’s too late.”
Just a small investment of time to read our policies, terms and conditions of supply, our newsletter and website would have saved the awkward experience of being corrected and in some instances barred from using our services.
Our charging policy sets out our not-for-profit status and explains that we charge for our time rather than for our partners’ data. This has always been the case and, when understood, allays the fears of potential data providers and saves embarrassment when end-users ask if they can access our services at a reduced rate or for free. If you work for a public body or private company, or are delivering funded research or projects, please don’t ask us to treat you differently to the hundreds of organisations that understand that their comparatively small annual financial contribution gives them access to several hundred thousand pounds worth of work. Factor our time in to your projects and we’ll gladly work with you to get the best out of what we do.
Terms and conditions of supply. Who reads them? We regularly remind service users of the relevant issues, including the fact that planning applications submitted with data sourced from the National Biodiversity Network’s Gateway breach the terms and conditions of supply and are not accurate enough to inform local decisions. Users of the NBN Gateway must first ask permission from data providers and cannot use the data available via the Gateway for commercial purposes. GiGL contribute most of the Gateway data for the London area and provide a much more comprehensive and detailed service locally. We never give permission to use our partners’ data via the Gateway to anyone who is trying to avoid contributing financially to our work and doing a sub-standard job in the process. It makes no business sense and could have serious repercussions for the organisation attempting to breach our terms and conditions. Known breaches are reported to us at GiGL and, in turn, we notify the NBN Trust who can and will take action.
We have local terms of supply too, in the form of data use licences and the conditions of supply set out during the process of commissioning a data search report. The general principles are that data are supplied for a finite period and solely for informing decisions by the recipient; that they are not to be passed on to third parties or redigitised from reports; and that they are not to be published without prior permission. All of these conditions exist to protect future data flow from our experts, and to ensure continued funding for our activities as London’s environmental records centre. Failure to comply with these conditions is now likely to result in being barred from future services or a heavy fine, recently set by our board at a minimum of £10,000.
So there you have it. In a nutshell, please read what we send you.
Mandy Rudd has over 16 years of experience working for an environmental records centre; for 14 of which she has headed up the GiGL team. She not only knows the GiGL instructions inside out but is a wealth of knowledge regarding nature conservation in London.