Data Centre scoops top Social Impact DatSci Award

National Biodiversity Data Centre scoops top award for ‘Best use of data to achieve social impact’ at recent DatSci Awards

Vivienne Kelly & Tomás Murray accepting the DatSci award on behalf of Compass Informatics and the National Biodiversity Data Centre

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is delighted to have won the award for ‘Best use of data to achieve social impact’ at the recent DatSci Awards ceremony in Dublin. The DatSci awards, sponsored by Deloitte, bring together the best and brightest data scientists in Ireland to recognise the important work being done in one of the fastest growing sectors in Ireland. The Best Use of Data to Achieve Social Impact, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, was a new award category in the DatSci awards, and attracted entrants from across Europe. The award was announced at a special award’s ceremony held in Dublin on 7th September, attended by upwards of 300 data scientist and industry representatives.

The award recognised that the “National Biodiversity Data Centre has made a strong positive impact on our national understanding of Ireland’s biodiversity, an important natural resource that contributes a minimum of €2.6 billion to the Irish economy each year. Using scientific methodologies combined with innovative data analytical techniques, and supported by modern technologies, it is raising the profile of biodiversity, encouraging citizen engagement through biodiversity recording and conservation, and influencing policy through the provision of robust data-driven insights”.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre, based in Waterford, has a team of seven full time staff, supported by a small team of ICT specialists, all employed by Compass Informatics, the SME that runs the National Biodiversity Data Centre on behalf of the Heritage Council.

The Centre’s mission is to provide national co-ordination and standards of biodiversity data and recording, assist the mainstreaming of biodiversity data and information into decision making, planning, conservation management and research, and encourage greater engagement by society in documenting and appreciating biodiversity.

When the Centre commenced operations in 2007 there was no central repository of biodiversity records, no tradition of data sharing, and a weak citizen science network with little capacity for generating high quality data. Now there is a scientifically validated, national biodiversity database of over 4 million records documenting more than 16,000 species sourced from 144 different data sources.  The Centre’s network includes more than 9,000 active citizen scientists, and over the last five years it has provided 106 training courses upskilling more than 1,500 individuals through its workshop programme. Access to these data are provided through a state of the art mapping portal https://maps.biodiversityireland.ie/ .

Speaking after the award, Mr Gearoid Ó Riain, Managing Director of Compass Informatics noted ‘that the role of a private company, Compass Informatics, has had very positive outcomes. The company has been able to bring the experience gained and expertise developed to other clients and countries – including with the South African National Biodiversity Institute, and creating high value jobs and new data science approaches, not only in Dublin but also in Waterford’.  ‘Compass Informatics has also been contributing significant research and development benefits from its own resources to the Centre, ensuring that commercially, scientifically and socially that biodiversity is the winner’ he added.

Michael Starrett, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council through which the funding for the Centre is provided, stated “This is a brilliant accolade and makes clear the very strong link between the quality of the biodiversity data and the manner in which it can be applied to improve the quality of people’s lives  and hence have a positive social impact”.

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

About DatSci Awards (https://www.datsciawards.ie/)

The 2018 DatSci Awards took place on the 7th of September in Croke Park.  The awards, hosted by Next Generation in association with CeADAR, brings together more than 300 data science industry leaders and honours those who have accomplished and contributed most in the rapidly expanding field of data science and analytics.    Data science and analytics are rapidly becoming big business in Ireland. It has been approximated that there will 40,000-60,000 analytics roles in Ireland by 2020, with a large proportion in “emerging” roles, including both deep analytics roles, and “analytics-savvy” roles.  In recent years many multinational corporations such as Deutsche Bank, Zalando, IBM, Aon and Citi have positioned their global analytics centres of excellence in Ireland. There has also been the recent creation and expansion of analytics centres by Deloitte, IBM, SAS, and AON.

 

About the National Biodiversity Data Centre (http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/)

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a national centre for the collection, collation, management, analysis and dissemination of data on Ireland’s biological diversity. Biodiversity data are a key requirement for understanding our natural surroundings, for tracking change in our environment and for gaining a greater insight on how we benefit from, and impact upon, the ecosystem goods and services provided by biological diversity; a national asset which contributes at least €2.6 billion to the Irish economy each year.  The Data Centre was established by the Heritage Council in 2007 and is funded by the Heritage Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.  The Centre is operated under a service level agreement by Compass Informatics Limited, an information and location technologies company focussed on applications in natural resources and planning.

Biodiversity Maps can be accessed at https://maps.biodiversityireland.ie/

Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal can be accessed at https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/

 

About Compass Informatics (https://www.compass.ie/)

Compass Informatics is a 21-year-old company using location technologies and analytics to provide information insights to clients in Ireland, the UK and South Africa primarily. Using similar skills the company provides services and systems to a range of sectors, including transport, environment, natural resources, and planning. Particular skills are in using the location or spatial aspect of data to understand and optimise operations, to share and visualise insights, and to ensure compliance with regulations.  Compass Informatics operates the National Biodiversity Data Centre on behalf of the Heritage Council, Ireland.  This has allowed the Centre to focus on digital data capture, analysis and sharing, and a wide engagement with many organisations and individuals.

 

For additional information contact:

Dr. Liam Lysaght, Centre Director,

National Biodiversity Data Centre

Email: llysaght@biodiversityireland.ie

Phone: +353 51 306240