Strengthening the Living Atlases Community of Practice

The Living Atlases community appoints two new coordinators and launches new video tutorials for users of the platform

Screenshot from the Living Atlases tutorial video
Screenshot from the Living Atlases tutorial video "how to search and download biodiversity data in an Atlas", a collaborative production by NBN Atlas, GBIF France, Canadensys, Atlas of Living Australia, GBIF.Es, VertNet and Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The GBIF Secretariat has funded two half-time positions in the network to assist in developing a growing community of practice around ‘Living Atlases.’

Vicente Ruiz Jurado of the Atlas of Living Spain will act as technical coordinator, with responsibility for supporting developers, improving technical documentation and building a shared roadmap. Marie Elise Lecoq of VertNet will serve as an administrative coordinator for the community, overseeing communication, exploring and documenting governance models and creating required training modules.

Kicking off activities for the new team, the community is launching two video tutorials with the aim of enabling end-users around the world to take full advantage of the Atlases. The videos are one key output from a project to improve documentation for the Living Atlases funded through the 2018 Capacity Enhancement Support Programme (CESP).

The first video (also included below) demonstrates the structure of a Living Atlas including how to search, refine and download biodiversity data, while the second video digs into the spatial components of the Atlas including the regions module that allows the user to find species recorded in a defined region. Both videos are available in English with subtitles in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Living Atlases are based on a software platform originally developed by the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), an informatics infrastructure that enables the aggregation of biodiversity data from multiple sources and supports integrated access and use of biological and environmental information. Since 2013, with help from ALA and GBIF, community members have organized technical training sessions and presented at numerous international meetings like GEO BON and TDWG. As a result of these and other efforts, an increasing number of GBIF nodes and other organizations have implemented the platform; 16 Atlases are now in production around the world, with work in progress on another 13 installations. The community website offers a current and complete list along with highlights activity across the community.

At the 2018 GBIF Governing Board meeting in Kilkenny, Ireland, Living Atlas representatives prepared and adopted a collective commitment toward developing a Living Atlas Community of Practice (CoP) with the following goals:

  • to increase the level of shared development and resources
  • to develop a shared roadmap and vision for the Living Atlas platform
  • to develop and maintain training, documentation and support services
  • to establish mechanisms for assisting individual countries in the adoption of the Living Atlas platform
  • to develop a governance model acceptable to the community

Those interested in the latest activities within the community can learn more from three presentations planned for the biodiversity_next conference held in Leiden, Netherlands, in October 2019.