NBN Atlas Update for Data Users

As you hopefully all know, the NBN Gateway will be decommissioned on the 31st March 2017 and the new NBN data sharing infrastructure, the NBN Atlas (www.nbnatlas.org), will go live on the same day.

The implementation of the NBN Atlas moves us closer towards our strategic aims for data to be collected and shared openly by providing the best biological information management infrastructure for the Network.

Development phases

This first phase of the development of the NBN Atlas will provide functionality to the same level as the NBN Gateway. Much of the additional functionality the NBN Atlas infrastructure is capable of will be developed and implemented later.

Changes from the NBN Gateway

Some important changes from the NBN Gateway to note:

  • Registration details will not transfer from the NBN Gateway; you will have to re-register for the NBN Atlas
  • The NBN Atlas will not have access controls (except for sensitive species, see below). The data will be available at a public resolution of the data providers’ choosing. In many cases, higher resolution data may be available and you will have to contact the data provider(s) directly to request enhanced access.
  • All datasets will have a licence detailing what the data within those datasets can be used for. The licences are; an Open Government Licence (OGL) and three Creative Commons licences, CC0, CC-BY and CC-BY-NC.

CC0 is the most open licence and allows the data to be used by anyone for any purpose.

CC-BY and OGL are similar and allow use by anyone for any purpose as long as the original data provider is properly cited.

The CC-BY-NC allows the use of data for non-commercial purposes only, Creative Commons define commercial use as one which is “primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation”. The NBN Trust is currently determining what guidance we can give about what could be considered as non-commercial use and we hope to be able to provide this guidance by the end of February. If you are in any doubt about whether your use would be considered commercial please contact the data provider.

More details on the licences can be found on the Creative Commons website 

  • Sensitive species records will be visible on the NBN Atlas at a blurred resolution. Initially, requests for enhanced access to these records will have to be made direct to the data providers. However, we will be developing and implementing a system for access through the NBN Atlas in the next few months.
  • Initially we will be blurring sensitive species records according to the sensitive species lists currently managed by the statutory bodies (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage and Northern Ireland Environment Agency). From April onwards the NBN will begin managing the sensitive species lists for the NBN Atlas and we will be arranging a workshop with the relevant experts to review the lists and agree criteria for assigning species as sensitive.
  • Even if the data you need is available at high resolution on an open licence (OGL, CC0, CC-BY) we strongly recommend that you seek expert local advice to ensure the data is interpreted properly, especially if using the data to apply for planning permission.
  • The NBN Atlas will initially cover the whole of the UK and it will expand to include the Isle of Man in the next financial year. Country portals for NBN Atlas Scotland (already live) and NBN Atlas Wales (going live on the 31st March) will also be available. These country Atlases use the same databases as the full NBN Atlas, but with a country focussed interface. Discussions about an NBN Atlas England and an NBN Atlas Northern Ireland  are ongoing.  
  • In most cases web services will not transfer directly from the NBN Gateway. Any applications making use of these services will require adapting to use the new API. This interface is similar to that from the Atlas of Living Australia and we are currently creating guidance to help with this transition.

Feedback and getting involved

When the NBN Atlas is available we will welcome any and all feedback on how it works for you. One of the major benefits of the NBN Atlas infrastructure is the ability to continually develop and refine the system. The switch to the NBN Atlas on the 31st of March is just the beginning of this exciting change to a new infrastructure and we will be providing opportunities for our members and partners to be involved in the discussions on what further functionality to add in the coming months.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions in the meantime, please get in touch via support@nbn.org.uk


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