As many, if not all readers of this, will already know. The National Biodiversity Network Gateway (the portal by which users can access the wealth of network member data) is due to be decommissioned by the end of March alongside the launch of a new 'Atlas' based on the Atlas of Living Australia.
An Atlas of Living Scotland has been commissioned as the first of a suite of Atlases and has become the testbed for future releases. (Funding has to date been assigned for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as a national UK Atlas).
Among the changes being brought in by the new Atlas is the loss of data provider management controls over visibility of data. As an example, Merseyside BioBank currently provides access to records at 2km square resolution (so anyone can see data we share at 2km), improved resolution can be granted to certain users or individuals if they meet our criteria for responsible/legitimate users.
This protects both the data (some of which may be of sensitive species or data which we do not have permission to share at full resolution) as well as the business model of Merseyside BioBank, while allowing a useable resolution for most national and regional work (while the data is licensed as not for commercial (CC-BY-NC) use we have logged a number of attempts to do just this.
The license also does not prevent Government agency use and it is our concern that if we were to release records at full resolution, even where this were possible, we would loose our ability to resource and coordinate the flow of records.
As a result Merseyside BioBank will be transfering current datasets to the Atlas at the current public resolution (2km square). We will however loose the ability to permit or share improved access with members for which i can only apologise, it is currently unavoidable.
Merseyside BioBank does and will remain an active and commited member of the National Biodiversity Network. The benefits of a national voice, a national profile and national (and international) sharing of information can only be good for the conservation of species which we appreciate is the primary focus of many of the recorders we work with.
It is my hope that in the future we will find a way to improve access for all while remain a viable 'not for profit' and able to continue to encourage, support, resource and coordinate local biological recording effort with a focus on the needs of wildlife and the City Region.