NCRIS partnerships developing complementary data services

A recent collaborative initiative with the Atlas of Living Australia has enabled significant advancement towards the delivery of more integrated, efficient and effective data and services to our users.

Collaborations focus on building a range of data services between TERN’s Advanced Ecological Knowledge Observation System (ÆKOS), above, and the ALA

TERN and The Atlas of Living Australia’s (ALA) national environment database infrastructures are playing a critical role in supporting effective delivery of high quality, data resources to the Australian science community. We continue to work closely with our many stakeholders and partners to build and strengthen a coordinated national capacity for open data access and intelligible reuse.

A recent initiative to further strengthen collaboration between these two NCRIS partners has enabled significant advancement towards a more integrated and diverse data offering.

The two NCRIS projects have been working with key members of the research community to understand and prioritise data resources and infrastructure requirements essential for their work.  There is a strong demand by researchers for both organisations to continue working together on data infrastructure projects that enable TERN’s highly structured plot-based data and the ALA’s species occurrence data to be collectively used to address key environmental science questions.

Following stakeholder engagement, ALA and TERN’s data technicians identified links in our infrastructure for new joint-work that underpins early delivery benefits to researchers.

The collaborations, led by TERN Eco-informatics’ Dr Anita Smyth and Craig Walker and ALA’s Dr Rebecca Pirzl, focus on building a range of data services between TERN’s Advanced Ecological Knowledge Observation System (ÆKOS) and the ALA.

Today we announce four key functional areas of joint work that are being explored:

  • Aligning standards and processes to facilitate data exchange between TERN and ALA;
  • Increasing cross-project facility data exchange to improve integrated access to data from both platforms;
  • Increasing opportunities for integrated solutions through coordinating key interactions with shared clients and stakeholders; and
  • Co-developing data tools that leverage benefits across platforms.

Already, the collaboration has progressed development on two new services for users seeking biodiversity (species occurrence) and ecosystem science (systematic or structured surveys) data. One service provides a Darwin Core feed from ÆKOS to ALA to expose occurrence records from ÆKOS datasets in the ALA environment, and enables ALA portal users to seamlessly obtain ÆKOS’s fully described metadata for those records to help with intelligible re-use of data.

The other service we’re jointly building enables interoperable data transmission of presence-absence survey datasets. Presence-absence, ecological survey datasets uploaded via ALA’s BioCollect field data capture tool will be directed to the ÆKOS repository using TERN’s popular SHaRED tool. Data collectors will be able to select the ALA repository to publish presence only (species occurrence) and SHaRED to host presence-absence ecological survey data in ÆKOS—TERN’s repository for scientific ecological survey data for experimental, long-term monitoring and surveillance programs.

Choosing SHaRED will also suit those involved in scientific research and interested in data publication support akin to scientific article publication (e.g., quality-assured data with DOIs, links between published data, scientific articles and specific versions, detailed metadata, controlled vocabularies, licensing, citations indexed by Thomson Reuters Data Citation Index).

TERN and ALA offer complementary data infrastructure, domains of operation and data services to Australian and international research communities. The collaborations are working to leverage these similarities to deliver efficient, effective and beneficial data and services for our users.

“TERN and ALA do separate things but we do have an area of ‘overlap’ [the shared space]”, commented ALA’s director John La Salle at one of the recent joint workshops. “…we recognise the distinction and value of each facility and look at the shared space as an opportunity in infrastructure and for our user communities. By synergising we are adding value and emphasising the importance of NCRIS for Australia’s science community.”

The workshops highlighted the commitment of ALA and TERN to work together in building Australia’s capacity for data sharing and re-use. Participants agreed to 12 action items to guide ALA and TERN in their continuing efforts to solve the critical data-management issues for Australia’s ecosystem science community.

  • For more information about these collaborations please contact TERN Eco-informatics’ Director Craig Walker or ALA Team Leader Dr Rebecca Pirzl.

Published in TERN newsletter July 2016

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