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the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

It takes a team to create a report

Maria Longley, GiGL Community Manager

GiGL’s flagship report, the ecological desktop study, presents a snapshot of the GiGL Partnership’s knowledge of a site or an area. The report is the culmination of a lot of time and effort to collate information about the whole of London; so we wanted to lift the lid on the process of what goes into creating this report. All of the team members contribute in one way or another to the ability of GiGL to run this specialist biodiversity data service.

More than just a simple data retrieval process, the data search service is built on the knowledge and collective effort of many individuals and organisations. The report showcases the best available ecological information to help realise a site’s potential or historical value. From its inception in 2001 we have delivered thousands of reports to meet our vision that London’s natural environment is appreciated, understood, considered and improved.

The data search report is a crucial tool in London to enable biodiversity data is considered in the planning process. The data journey from people’s observations and notebooks, through to GiGL databases; and the information is then shared wide and far. There are a lot of people involved in this data journey and GiGL only play one part in the “life cycle” of biodiversity data in London. While the data are with GiGL, the whole team play many varied roles to ensure that they are the best they can be to inform the next uses. These core datasets form the backbone to many crucial services and the GiGL team are proud to look after them.

Meet the team

Much in the same way that the GiGL reports are meant to provide context for a client to appraise a site and be an addition resource to their professional expertise, GiGL’s work on this service reflects national work on considering biodiversity in planning.

Chief Executive

Mandy Rudd

Data search reports, more often than not, highlight the presence of otherwise difficult to obtain species and sites information. GiGL receive data in many diverse formats so one challenge the team members face is standardising it so it can be compared across London. There is also a fair amount of detective work that goes into tracking down missing data! Data management is a skilled and varied task.

Database Officer

Laura Kuurne

Creating a data infrastructure around biodiversity and planning is a vitally important task. The Open Data Institute point out that “trustworthy data infrastructure is sustainably funded and has oversight that provides direction to maximise data use and value by meeting the needs of society.” A new GiGL project is researching how planning authorities currently use biodiversity data.

Planning Research Officer

Eleni Foui

Ideas, trends and reports change over the years and GiGL has invested in the systems and tools that allow us to delivery our service. Data quality and standards play an important part in the data infrastructure, and GiGL has been involved in writing national standards as well as working locally to help clients with their compliance requirements.

Systems Manager

Andy Foy

Another key component of the data infrastructure is the trustworthiness of the data. At the heart of that are the many relationships built up over the years between data curators, providers and users. Technology and new processes to capture data are going to be an exciting part of the data infrastructure, but it is vital that people are not removed from the ongoing conversations.

Senior Community Officer

Lyndsey Cox

As London’s Local Environmental Records Centre GiGL is involved in a multitude of networks that range from small and local, to London-wide and national. GiGL works hard with key partners to level the playing field for environmental consultants by creating a shared expectation of when Local Authorities need to see a data search report with a planning application and how the available data should be interpreted in the London context.

Partnership Manager

Chloë Smith

“Collect data once and use them many times” is a well-worn GiGL saying. Naturalists going out to observe the wildlife in their local environments are rarely doing so because of the planning system in the UK. Through talks and meetings GiGL speak to the species recording community about the many uses of the observations they make and advocate the value of reusing the observations. Getting notable and protected species highlighted in the data search report, and therefore available for consideration in the planning process, can be a motivation for recorders to share their data once they hear of how it is used in London.

Community Officer

Benjamin Town

GiGL’s data services encompass more than just this data search report. Other services may be a bespoke data investigation to answer a specific question from a GiGL Partner or creating a map of youth related open spaces for a dance group in Camden, but they often have a way of winding up as new services in the report too.

Partnership Officer

Emma Knowles

GiGL actively uses these incredible datasets for data modelling, map making, and other projects to inform decision-makers, land managers, policy-setters, curious students, media outlets and many more in London. GiGL’s core datasets are the backbone of an astonishing array of outputs that are informed by, or created for, partners and clients. Listening to the people and organisations around GiGL is a common thread of these projects.

Partnership Officer

Minhyuk Seo

The costs of the report relate to the data management involved, not to the data. As a social enterprise the profit GiGL makes has to be reinvested in the core purpose of the organisation. By using the data search service environmental consultants are also investing in the support GiGL is able to provide local recorders.

Community Manager

Maria Longley

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