Advanced information technology is essential for effectively
managing and delivering conservation information. With significant expertise
in information technology, NatureServe is a leader in the field of biodiversity
data managementthe systems, software, and information technology tools
needed to manage biodiversity data and to deliver useful products and services.
NatureServe has pioneered the application of computer technologies for biodiversity
data management, and has been honored with a Smithsonian/ComputerWorld Award
for software excellence.
Over our 30-year history, the NatureServe network has collected and recorded detailed information on more than a half-million separate occurrences of at-risk species and natural communities. The technology we use for managing this biodiversity data is critical to our ability to aggregate, analyze, and ultimately to deliver reliable biodiversity information to the public.
Building on our established track record in the field, we
have now released Biotics 4, an advanced geographic
information systems-based software tool for managing biodiversity information.
The use of software such as Biotics 4 promotes interoperability throughout our
network, ensuring that data collected in each state and province can be compared,
exchanged, and combined. NatureServe has extensive experience in the use of
geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze and present our data, and has
developed a close partnership with ESRI, the world GIS leader, to develop additional
GIS-based data management and decision-support tools for conservation.
Information technology also helps us make biodiversity information
accessible to the public. NatureServe
Explorer represents our first generation of Web-based data exploration tools,
and for the first time provides public access to virtually all of NatureServe's
centrally developed information about species and ecosystems. Through the NatureServe
Explorer website, users can query NatureServe's central databases by any combination
of scientific or common name, taxonomic group, conservation or legal status,
and geography. NatureServe Explorer is an information tool that has proven equally
valuable for researchers, students, and the interested public.
Combining our expertise in biodiversity information, data
management, and GIS, NatureServe has developed NatureServe Vista software, a decision-support
system that will allow planners, conservation groups, and local governments
to better integrate biodiversity information into land use and conservation
planning. NatureServe Vista is a collection of desktop and Internet
software tools and information resources, supported by a network of experts
to apply them to real-world land use and conservation decisions. The beta version of NatureServe Vista is now available.
Internet Data Delivery
The next major step forward in information technology for NatureServe will be to implement an open Web services architecture for our data resources, using emerging XML-based Web services protocols. The project has twin goals: to improve access to our network's vast biodiversity data resources in order to increase their value to scientists, decision-makers, and the public; and to achieve interoperability with other biodiversity information networks. This system will incorporate a new framework for online data access to make it simple to explore, extract, and analyze our data. Through these Web services, we will be able to deliver biodiversity information to the user more directly and effectively than ever before, in the format that the user needs, such as downloadable GIS data layers.
To learn more about NatureServe's approach to information
technology, view the graphical overviews below, then see the sections on Decision-Support
Systems and Biotics 4.