The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Secretariat announced today that the Smithsonian Institution’s Digitization Program Office (DPO) was selected by an expert jury as a winner in the 2018 Ebbe Nielsen Challenge. The entry, submitted by DPO Informatics Program Officer Luis J. Villanueva, the GBIF Issues Explorer, won a Second Place award among 23 entries from countries around the world. The Challenge was open to software tools that used GBIF data or tools to promote open science and open biodiversity data. The prize includes a monetary award of €3,500 (about $4,000). DPO will use the prize to expand the informatics efforts it is providing to the Smithsonian units and the community.
The GBIF Issues Explorer web application was developed to provide collection managers at the Smithsonian with an easy way to explore the issues identified in their data uploaded to GBIF. These issues can include taxonomy problem, errors in coordinates, or invalid dates in the records. Due to the large size of the data (e.g. Paleobiology has over 660,000 records in GBIF), exploring these issues is a time-consuming task. The managers can now use an easy web interface that displays the most relevant information to determine the steps necessary to fix the problems in the records. Links to the collection database, inline images, and a map can help to improve the quality in the data for future updates. Researchers can also use the application to check GBIF data before running their analyses.
The GBIF Issues Explorer application was written for R/Shiny and is available with an open source license in Github. The idea of the application came from conversations with Holly Little, Informatics Specialist in the Department of Paleobiology of the NMNH, on the difficult task of fixing the issues that the GBIF system had identified in the records submitted. The Office of Research Computing provided the Shiny server.
The Digitization Program Office is a program in the Smithsonian’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO).