GBIF Infrastructure: Overview

How GBIF works as a global informatics infrastructure

Crabtree Nature Preserve
Crabtree Nature Preserve by Justin Kern licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The GBIF informatics architecture provides an open platform to connect and access biodiversity databases around the world.

The distributed infrastructure spans across the hundreds of institutions participating in GBIF, enabling users to discover, access, integrate and help curate the growing content shared on the network.

The GBIF architecture encompases well-known community-developed data standards and protocols enabling interoperability at global scale. As an open infrastructure, a growing number of tools and workflows are able to connect and participate in the GBIF network.

For convenience the infrastructure can be considered in terms of a number of sequential processes:

  • Digitization: The initial capturing of information in electronic form, through imaging, databasing, maintaining spreadsheets and so on.
  • Publishing: The act of making data sources available in a well known format (standard) and with appropriate metadata for access on the internet.
  • Integration: The process of aggregating published data sets, applying consistent quality control routines and normalizing formats.
  • Discovery and access: By building network wide indices, discovery services are offered for users through portals and for machines by extensive web service APIs.

For details on specific components of the GBIF architecture, please refer to the list at the top of this page.