Integrated Occurrence Data
The GBIO identified Integrated Occurrence Data as one of the components of the Evidence layer. This component recognises that different user communities, including taxonomists, biogeographers, ecologists, conservationists, and policymakers among others, need comprehensive access to all available evidence for the occurrence, and abundance, of any species in time and space. This need exists for studies at local or national scale just as much as for global analyses, since relevant data sources may be distributed anywhere.
Many data infrastructures (e.g. GBIF, ALA and other Living Atlas instances, iDigBio, OBIS, GGBN) harvest data frrom many relevant sources to build different indexes of species occurrence data. None of these is comprehensive - they each include a different subset of available data). They all process the data in different ways, so that the same underlying data may be represented with different identifiers, different flags and inconsistent interpretation in multiple indexes. Data publishers have difficulty tracing the use of their data through all these networks, and end users are unable easily to combine data indexed by different networks. Curation of data is hampered because so many incompatible versions are accessible.
GBIF, ALA, iDigBio and other infrastructures responsible for indexing occurrence data have started discussions to reduce variation between their processes and to explore unifying some or all steps. The ideal scenario is for every record of a specimen or other evidence of species occurrence to have a stable and unique identifier, a consistent interpretation at the global scale in terms of geography, taxonomy, etc., and additional properties relevant to the country, taxon, type of evidence, biome, etc., and for all communities to be able to use, reference and annotate this shared version of the data. If it is possible to deliver a consistent data management model of this kind, it will open the door for increased standardisation and functionality both in software for those who manage and publish data and in workbenches for accessing and analysing data.
GBIF, the Atlas of Living Australia and iDigBio have started to explore ways to align and possibly integrate their data processing pipelines. These partners are also exploring sources of funding to expand this effort.
Relevance to alliance for biodiversity knowledge
Delivering a consistent global approach to Integrated Occurrence Data would increase efficiency, transparency and sustainability for the partner institutions and simplify work on many other components identified in the Data and Understanding layers of the GBIO framework.