Louise Sleeman, Information Officer
This year’s NBN conference, held in Edinburgh, was titled “Going with the flow: supporting the NBN data flow pathway”. This was a very timely topic for GiGL, as we have just written our own Data Flow Strategy. So, we happily joined the recording community for two days of talks and workshops centred around where biological data comes from, verification of records and the movement of data.
On Thursday, the NBN Trust’s new Chief Executive, Jo Judge, opened the conference, and chaired a morning of talks covering topics related to the recording and collecting of data.
Megan Shersby addressed the idea that there are too few young people interested in nature. She gave an entertaining insight into the world of A Focus on Nature, an ever-growing youth nature network that promotes biological recording and conservation. Megan pointed out that there are plenty of young nature enthusiasts, it may just be that they don’t often attend the same events as older age groups.
The afternoon was then spent with a team member in each of five workshops, on subjects covering quality control, engaging people, data flow, increasing data use and biological recording online. These are all big topics of discussion within GiGL. For example, we have recently been taking a look at how our data, supplied through the NBN Gateway, is used and have worked on several recording webforms, on behalf of other London organisations as well as for our own purposes. The importance of this type of online work was highlighted in the biological recording online workshop, where we discovered that, according to surveys by the Office of National Statistics, 83% of adults in England used the internet on a daily basis in 2016.
Friday brought with it a range of talks centred on data quality and use. We also heard about novel methods of obtaining biological data, such as scraping data from social media and the use of drones. The hot topics of open data and the upcoming Atlas of Living UK were discussed. Australia and Scotland have already produced country-wide atlases, and provide the model for what the NBN hopes to achieve for the UK. France and Portugal also have plans for national atlases. London is currently determining how we can best embrace open data, and how our role will fit into the NBN Atlas.
Overall, the conference provided us with an insight into the ways that others deal with the same data flow challenges and opportunities that we work with on a daily basis at GiGL.