A new initiative aims to coordinate global efforts and funding to deliver the best possible information about life on Earth, and our impacts upon it.
The Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook sets out a framework to harness the immense power of information technology and an open data culture to gather unprecedented evidence about biodiversity and to inform better decisions.
The framework is outlined in a document and website entitled Delivering Biodiversity Knowledge in the Information Age, inviting policy makers, funders, researchers, informatics specialists, data holders and others to unite around four key focus areas where progress is needed.
The focus areas, each consisting of several specific components, are:
Culture – promoting practices and infrastructure for sharing data, using common standards and persistent archives, backed up by strong policy incentives and a community of willing specialists;
Data – addressing the need to transform all data about species, past and present, into usable and accessible digital formats; from historic collections and literature to citizen science observations, remote sensors and gene sequencing;
Evidence – organizing and assessing data from all sources to provide clear, consistent views giving them context; including taxonomic organization, integrated occurrences in time and space, capturing information about species interactions, and improving data quality through collaborative curation; and
Understanding – building models from recorded measurements and observations to support data-driven research and evidence-based planning, including predictive tools, better visualization and feedbacks to prioritize new data capture.
The document is being promoted through a number of upcoming events this month, including the Governing Board of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD SBSTTA) where it forms part of the discussion on meeting global targets to end biodiversity loss.
The framework arose from the Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference which gathered around 100 experts in Copenhagen in July, 2012, to identify critical questions relating to biodiversity and tools needed answer them. Workshop leaders at that conference went on to draw up and author the current document.
The Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook includes examples of projects and initiatives contributing to its objectives, and the accompanying website www.biodiversityinformatics.org invites feedback from others wishing to align their own activities to the framework.
A deck of slides for presentations about GBIO is available at http://www.slideshare.net/GBIF/global-biodiversity-informatics-outlook.
Printed copies of the Outlook and accompanying flyer are available on request from Sampreethi Aipanjiguly, GBIF Secretariat.
For further information, contact Tim Hirsch, GBIF Secretariat.