GBIF and Atlas of Living Australia partnership

More than 12 months of collaboration between developers from the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the GBIF Secretariat has produced a major upgrade to the ALA’s systems that makes them more reliable, more robust and better equipped to manage increasing volumes of biodiversity data.

The new infrastructure, using the shared GBIF/ALA codebase, increases data indexing speeds for the ALA, reduces its operational costs and reduces long-term technical debt accumulated by developing independent systems. These efficiencies are critical for the ALA’s infrastructure to keep pace with data growing at a rate of more than one million species occurrence records every year.

Users have already reported that ALA’s systems are more responsive, particularly when searching species data, navigating the maps and using the Spatial Portal analytical tool, reports Javier Molina, project lead for the Core Infrastructure Upgrade Project. Publishers may also see improvements, given that the infrastructure smoothly processed an update to a dataset of more than 20 million records from eBird Australia.

The improvements have also generated an immediate return on the teams’ investment in the collaboration. During its first day in production, the cost of operating the ALA infrastructure was reduced by 43 per cent, a rate that will net annual savings of nearly €50,000 (AU$ 79,000).

The recent upgrade also improves the consistency in how the ALA, GBIF and other biodiversity infrastructures process data. Given that many users of the ALA also frequently access data through GBIF, uniform handling of data flags and interpretations eliminates potential sources of confusion and enables them to use both platforms with proficiency.

With this first stage of the project complete, the ALA will set its sights on simplifying data ingestion processes and further collaboration with GBIF on shared goals such as establishing common vocabularies and managing DNA-derived records more consistently.

Last, and most definitely not least, comes engagement of the wider Living Atlases community. This group comprises more than two dozen international teams in the GBIF network who implement the open-source platform originally developed by the ALA in other national, thematic, regional and institutional settings.

You can read more about the upgrade project on the GBIF website.

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