Since 2013, the open-source software platform initially developed by the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) has seen increasingly wider adoption by other GBIF nodes around the world. This project has supported what has now become an annual workshop for the Living Atlases community.
This project has sought to strengthen the international community of practice by supporting the creation of an official website, documenting future ALA-based platforms and organizing a monthly call between developers and organizers.
The event has helped motivate new and experienced users alike by providing a forum for exchanging ideas and improvements from other countries and projects. New users can increase their understanding of the infrastructure’s potential, while existing users can share doubts and ideas, resolve technical issues and press on with developing their national data portals.
The project efforts were focused around two workshops held in Ottawa (2017) and Madrid (2018). From these engagements, more than the three initially planned data portals launched including Canadensys, Andorra, Benin, and Estonia. Through the workshops, the project has worked with 23 participants from 19 countries and 6 regions around the world with the aim of strengthening the Living Atlas community and training participants in basic ALA modules. New participants interested included TaiBif, the Field Museum of Chicago and Russia. Participant pages on the wiki have been improved and a website for the community has been created. Overall, the workshop was a success and the team are in the process of publishing all of the exercises made for the workshop on the ALA documentation wiki. This workshop also gave an opportunity to learn some lessons which would help to improve the Living Atlas community and how different users interact with it. This included the translation of the documentation (technical and end-user) in several languages and a need to be more collaborative using open software for codes in GitHub for example. Improvements to the ALA documentation that is already on GitHub have been made and the documentation has been restructured with work ongoing with the community to improve it.
New data portals in the Asian, Caribbean and African areas are expected beyond the completion of this project. This will increase the visibility of the community in new parts of the world with these new data portals being installed by GBIF and non-GBIF member alike. Some new partnerships have been established between GBIF nodes as a result of this CESP project, such as the cooperation between GBIF France and GBIF Togo to create an official website and data portal for the Togolese node. In addition to a planned annual workshop, the project team have also begun to organize the future event to be held as part of a new capacity enhancement program in 2018 focusing on the spatial aspect of the ALA modules for end users.