On April 24-27, 2000 a workshop titled "Internet-based Biodiversity Database Workshop: an assessment of needs and tools" was held in Fort Collins, Colorado, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Colorado State University - Colorado Natural Heritage Program, University of New Mexico - New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, and Colorado State University - Computer Science Department.
Full proceedings from 2000 workshop may be found at:
In summary, the participants at the 2000 workshop identified several key high priority issues and constraints regarding the development of a "perfect web-based data system:"
- Ensure communication flow so individual programs are active participants and can interact with users
- Define role of NatureServe in helping member programs meet data standards
- Ensure funding mechanism to maintain the system
- Create flexibility for differences in data display and access policies among the various member programs
- Establish different levels of access based on user identity
- Develop mechanism for minimizing data misuse and/or misinterpretation
The results from the 2000 workshop were used by NatureServe to guide the development of a new proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for construction of a prototype database titled "Developing a New Infrastructure for Dynamic Access to Multi-Institutional Biodiversity Data." In 2004, this proposal was approved and NatureServe was awarded National Science Foundation, Biological Databases & Informatics Grant No. 0345400. The Internet Data Delivery Workshop represents the beginning of this project, named the Internet Data Delivery Project.
As outlined in the NSF proposal, the first task is to gather input and feedback on key challenges such as the different constraints and regulatory environments among NatureServe members and other partners, models for ensuring fair and equitable system implementation, and a framework for providing secure access to sensitive data. The input and feedback will be used to help define system usability requirements. This task was partially accomplished through the Internet Data Delivery Workshop held on November 17, 2004 at the NatureServe Leadership Conference in Tucson, Arizona.
- By providing broader access to our data resources we will be able to dramatically increase the conservation impact of our work.
- Providing broader access to our data will enable NatureServe and its member programs to more fully integrate with and take advantage of other national and international biodiversity data efforts.
- Significant new revenue streams should be available to NatureServe and member programs with greater access to and appreciation for our data.
- The web-based data delivery system should reduce the time and cost to member programs of responding to data requests.
- By improving synchronization between NatureServe's central database and member program database we will be improving the currency and quality of our data.
- Local data custodians will continue to maintain control over terms of access to their data sets.
- Software and approaches developed through this project for serving data centrally will also be suitable for local web service applications.
- Implementing an online delivery system will likely require an evolution of our current data sharing arrangements.
NatureServe has identified development of a distributed, Internet data delivery system as one of its highest institutional priorities. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, we are launching a project to overhaul our data delivery infrastructure to harness the power of the Internet for providing access to Network data resources. We plan to leverage work already done by our members and others. Our first task is to gather feedback on key challenges such as the different constraints and regulatory environments among NatureServe members, models for ensuring fair and equitable system implementation, and a framework for providing secure access to sensitive data. Partners' input will be gathered to help define system usability requirements. The program will include presentations of example Web sites, a review of representative use cases to help frame the requirements discussions, and small-group sessions focused on specific challenges and requirements.
To gather feedback on key challenges such as the different constraints and regulatory environments among NatureServe members, models for ensuring fair and equitable system implementation, and a framework for providing secure access to sensitive data.
A synthesis of recorded notes from focus group discussion during the workshop will be used by NatureServe to assist in defining usability, functionality, and security requirements for the development of a prototype distributed Internet data delivery system.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0345400. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.