NBN Strategy Consultation – your views summarised

Thank you to all of you who completed the NBN Strategy Refresh questionnaire in August and September.  We were delighted by the response and have summarised the findings in a report, which can be downloaded here.  The information below gives a brief summary of the feedback received.

Executive Summary

The NBN Trust received 225 responses to the NBN Strategy Review Questionnaire in 2014 (83 NBN members and 54 non-members). These provided a wide range of views and opinions about the NBN to inform the development of its new Strategy.

In general the National Biodiversity Network is held in high regard, mainly for the ability to access and share biological data via the NBN Gateway, and also for the guidance, tools and best practice advice provided by the NBN Trust. There appears to be a strong sense that NBN members collaborate for the collective good of UK wildlife and people would rather that the NBN existed than not.

Despite this, there is plenty of room for improvement in both the way the NBN partnership operates and in technical aspects of the NBN (notably the NBN Gateway). The majority of people, despite valuing the NBN, feel that it is not quite achieving its full potential. This is due to a number of factors within the NBN membership including competing interests, differing motivations, lack of teamwork, different technological solutions and approaches being used. This makes the NBN at times inefficient, and for many, extremely frustrating.

Key messages in the responses to the questionnaire can be split into five themes:

1. Leadership

People want leadership from the NBN and the NBN Trust in setting standards and facilitating improvement across the industry. Strong support was expressed for the proposed direction of the new Strategy, its aims and focus. The proposed strategic aims are moving in the right direction in line with how people see the NBN evolving. People would like clarification of the roles and responsibilities in delivering the Strategy to create an efficient, innovative and dynamic Network as they are currently not clear or united. Network members do not have a shared feeling of ownership and ability to influence. The NBN Trust has heard that there are many differences in opinion around what ‘the NBN’ should be, and what the NBN Trust should be focusing on. Most respondents are aware of the current vision and while many like it, there are others that would like to change it. The NBN does not currently have a mission statement and respondents would like one which is positive, dynamic and personal.

A need has been identified to clarify the language used about the NBN, the NBN Trust and NBN Gateway to make clear the distinction between the three. Respondents advised that there should be a clear division between the local and national context surrounding biodiversity data and that the NBN Trust should perhaps be focussing at the national level, while others (such as the Local Record Centre community and the national schemes and societies) engage and work at a local level.

2. Data

Biological data capture from other sources (such as museums and legacy data) and other potential members of the NBN is seen as a priority. Improving data quality and data flow are also seen as important issues to ensure the best information is captured quickly, in the most suitable format and used.  Providing more data for underrepresented species through the NBN Gateway is required, and there is a general ask for more data to be available through the NBN Gateway.

3. Technology

There was a strong message that improvements are needed to the NBN Gateway and the user interface. Meeting the needs of data providers and data users should be a high priority. This is needed to improve data flow and increase use of the data through improving its usability. Increased visualisations and analysis tools will also improve engagement with end users.

4. Communication and promotion

More regular communication with members and the public has been requested. The need to promote the value of biological data and the importance of recording was also seen as a priority. In general the NBN profile and brand could be significantly enhanced and work is needed on this. Increased communication and face to face engagement is requested.

5. Support for the Network

Many organisations have recognised that they could contribute further to the NBN through increased engagement and involvement with the NBN Trust, increased promotion of the NBN within their networks, simplifying data flows, providing more data and increasing public access to datasets within the NBN Gateway. Training for NBN members in how to use the NBN Gateway and website and to ensure data flow standards are met. Greater support for the recording community was also highlighted with setting standards and achieving financial security.

NBN Strategy Workshops

There are still places available at the workshops to discuss the Strategy further and in more detail at the following venues.  Please email support@nbn.org.uk as soon as possible if you wish to attend.

Objectives for the workshops:

  • To provide feedback on the results from the strategy refresh questionnaire
  • To highlight and discuss major issues and ensure all voices are heard
  • To brainstorm ways forward for the NBN
  • To detail the timeframe and process for the final stages of the refresh These workshops will also be a forum for people to meet and network.

Date and venue – Wales (final places need to be confirmed on 8th October)

Monday 13th October,
10.00 – 16.00 Aberystwyth University,
Medrus 3 room,
Penglais, Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion, SY23 3FL

Date and venue – Northern Ireland (final places need to be confirmed on 13th October)

Tuesday 21st October,
10.00 – 16.00 National Museums Northern Ireland ,
Drawing Room, Cultra Manor,
Holywood,  County Down,
BT18 0EU

Date and venue – Scotland (final places need to be confirmed on 17th October)

Thursday 23rd October, 10.00 – 16.00
Edinburgh Park Management Suite,
4 Lochside Place,  Edinburgh Park,
Edinburgh, EH12 9DF

Date and venue – England (final places need to be confirmed on 17th October)

Monday 3rd November,
10.00 – 16.00  Natural History Museum,
Neil Chalmers Lecture Hall,
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5BD


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