Biotics Upgrade: Roadmap Under Construction
Biotics 4 is built on legacy third-party tools that are out of date and no longer supported by the vendors or by many of our members’ host institutions. The situation has grown more critical each year, as the lack of dedicated funding required to pay for a redesign has continued to push the start date into the future. NatureServe recognizes that this trend must stop and is committed to moving ahead now.
NatureServe’s FY2011 Goal 3:
Enhance the responsiveness of NatureServe’s information systems and tools in addressing the needs of network members and partners efficiently and sustainably.
- Implement critical path upgrade (e.g., ArcGIS 10) to Biotics and integrate existing observation data management platforms (e.g., Kestrel and mobile technology).
- Address urgent needs for a technical bridge between Biotics 4 and future systems by coordinating a team to: a) Develop a clearing house to disseminate potential network-wide solutions to aging Biotics platforms, b) identify immediate network needs not supported by Biotics and technical alternatives currently in use or planned in the network, and c) assess capacity for both in-kind and financial support from network members for developing, testing, and sustaining the next generation biodiversity information management systems.
- Maintain momentum for future systems upgrades by finalizing and communicating a prioritized development pathway for FY12-FY14.
As part of the FY2011 annual goal-setting process, the joint member-management team stressed the urgency for acting now to upgrade Biotics and adopted an annual goal with shared milestones for staff and network involvement.
It's really happening!
In NatureServe’s FY2011 budget, we have allocated almost $200,000 from the pooled technology data management fees toward developing the technical plan and implementing the critical-path release for Biotics. This investment builds on prior year spending of approximately $80,000 in FY2010 to support the spatial methodology and next generation Biotics assessment activities. The U.S. Section Council is leading an assessment of network capacity for both paid and in-kind support to develop and sustain the next-generation Biotics. The total development cost to implement the full multi-year release plan remains undetermined. We propose an incremental release strategy, and a development plan designed to focus on the most critical issues first and phased to fit within our available budget.
Biotics is a customized application tailored specifically to the business needs of the natural heritage network. While earlier versions were largely financed by The Nature Conservancy, it is a NatureServe network system that now requires network financing, and will be financed primarily through annual license fees from the user base. The license fee will be structured to cover hosting and maintenance of the system and user support, as well as new and ongoing development costs. Today the annual support fee for Biotics is $3,900. This does not factor in additional costs that are covered by every Biotics installation location for server and client hardware, server and client software licenses, IT administration support fees, and other related direct costs. There are also significant additional indirect costs borne by each Biotics installation location, including staff time to complete data exchange activities, develop reports and queries, and complete other business processes.
The annual, inclusive investment by member programs under the proposed financing strategy is currently estimated at $15,000. We will deliver the next-generation Biotics following a software-as-a-service model. By setting a fixed and predictable annual fee structure, the Biotics release planning team can establish an incremental release strategy that is scaled to fit within the network-generated revenue stream, and member programs will have a known annual budget line item. NatureServe, together with our network members, will seek funding from additional, outside sources. However, we won’t wait or fail to proceed without such funds.
Biotics 4 Lifecycle Costs
for a 7-year period (2004-2010)
|Custom installation support and travel||$21,000-$32,000|
|Original hardware and software||$7,000-$18,000|
|Subsequent Maintenance & Support|
|System and infrastructure upgrades||$5,000-$10,000||Cumulative over six years|
|Biotics support fees||$3,500-$3,900||per subsequent year|
|Oracle support fees||$2,000||cumulative|
|Local IT support fees||$12,000-$30,000||cumulative|
|Total lifecycle system costs*||$69,000-$114,000|
|Amortized system costs per year||$10,000-$16,000|
|Proposed annual Biotics fee**||$15,000|
*Does not include software R&D costs (which is why we haven't had funding to upgrade it in 7 years...)
**Encompasses installation and support, and includes R&D funding to support system upgrades.
USFWS State Wildlife Grant Competitive Program
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in cooperation with NatureServe and other state wildlife agency partners, will submit a proposal under the FY2011 USFWS State Wildlife Grant Competitive Program, seeking funds to support the implementation of the next-generation Biotics system. Biotics has an existing user base in almost every state, and a demonstrated track record of supporting on-the-ground management for species of greatest conservation need. We believe the proposal will make a compelling case for why an investment in Biotics by USFWS will benefit the implementation of state wildlife action plans in every state. This grant requires a minimum of 25% nonfederal matching funds from states, with higher application points for a 50% match. MDC will administer the grant and has committed $5,000 in matching funds from their FY2011 budget. NatureServe’s FY2011 and FY2012 investment in the Biotics planning and start-up activities will also count toward the match requirement. We are now seeking to identify additional state matching funds to ensure the best possible grant application score.
Section Council representatives will contact member program coordinators shortly to discuss each state’s role in the design, development, and financing of the next-generation Biotics. The key areas of involvement are to:
- select representatives for the Biotics development team and a network advisory team
- provide member-to-member assistance for immediate, interim Biotics fixes
- become a formal partner or supporter of the USFWS competitive grant proposal
- identify cash or in-kind matching funds for the USFWS competitive grant proposal
- secure support for the increased Biotics software fee within your annual budget
- look for other grant opportunities to offset ongoing Biotics development and support costs