Five new data portals developed through a pilot programme are now publicly available, the first results from an emerging initiative that aims to support GBIF nodes and members of their own networks.
These "hosted portals" provide turnkey websites, fully hosted by GBIF, that reduce the technical threshold for nodes and their partners to maintain a branded, multilingual web presence with a defined subset of GBIF-mediated data. In recent weeks, the following hosted portals have gone live:
Sponsored and co-developed by the Science Analytics and Synthesis Program (SAS) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
- Legume Data Portal
Sponsored by Canadensys and co-developed by the Legume Phylogeny Working Group
- PBIF: Pacific Biodiversity Information Facility
Sponsored and co-developed and by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP))
- Rotterdam Natural History Museum
Sponsored by NLBIF)
- SiB Colombia
These five hosted portals are part of a set of 20 developed during a year-long pilot initiative following a call for expressions of interest from GBIF participant nodes.
"The GBIF community's positive response to these first portals is extremely encouraging," said Tanya Abrahamse, former head of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and current chair of the GBIF governing board. "By fulfilling the need for wider data access while increasing the network's ability to support research focused at smaller geographic and taxonomic scales, the hosted-portal service is a pivotal enhancement that will further demonstrate the value of our collective effort, and human and financial investments in GBIF."
Nodes are responsible for coordinating GBIF-related activities within their geographic and institutional networks, so they play an essential role in promoting the use of biodiversity data mobilized across GBIF's international network. Providing a simple, stable and easily customizable portal that shares news and other information about the the site owner while reinforcing its identity enables them to dedicate resources toward cultivating data publisher and user communities, rather than investing in bespoke and often duplicative infrastructure.
"We had seen different nodes and other community members allocating resources to grapple with very similar issues and sensed that we could offer something to make things easier for them," said Tim Robertson, head of informatics at the GBIF Secretariat. "After people responded positively to the initial concepts for a hosted portal service presented at the 2019 Global Nodes Training Workshop and the 26th meeting of the GBIF Governing Board, we started work on developing not only the framework needed to support the approach but also a pilot phase that engaged community members to test the process."
The fully customizable portals provide full data-search capabilities and already include new features not yet available on GBIF.org, like better browsing of individual occurrences, new map visualizations and improved filtering of data. At present, users of the hosted portals are seamlessly redirected to GBIF.org to download data, leveraging the primary infrastructure's tools to assign DOIs, maintain the provenance of the source data and enable use of GBIF's literature and citation tracking systems.
The hosted portals initiative complements the ongoing work of the Living Atlases community, which maintains dozens of complex geospatial platforms built using open-source software originally developed by the Atlas of Living Australia. Living Atlases leverage the platform's modular architecture and broader range of services to deliver high-performance web environments with the support of dedicated informatics and technology staff.