Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finalists for GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) officially established in 2001 is an international open data infrastructure, funded by various governments. It allows anyone, anywhere to access data about all forms of life on Earth, shared globally and openly.

Last year GBIF launched the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge, an open incentive competition seeking for the best and most innovative applications of open-access biodiversity data by scientists, informaticians, data modelers, cartographers and other experts. GBIF wanted to encourage use of the more than half a billion species occurrences and other data mobilized through and related to GBIF’s international network.

The competition goes through two rounds. Round one has just been finished and the jury selected six finalists from among 23 submissions received, inviting their creators to compete for €25,000 during the innovation prize’s second and final round. 

Here they are and it will be a tough choice for the jury as all are pretty cool and innovative ideas. 

Developed by Tom August
This service leverages location information from Twitter users who use the the hashtag #myGBIF—“One hashtag, infinite possibilities”, as August suggests. Functioning as a hyper-local personalized biodiversity assessment, the call to #myGBIF retrieves species occurrence data from the user’s area, mashes them up with common names and IUCN extinction risks via the Encyclopedia of Life, and promptly tweets a resulting infographic back to the user.

Developed by Richard Pyle
Biodiversity informatics needs reliable, persistent and actionable digital identifiers, but the community has made little progress toward resolving its glut of multiple identifiers and sources for any given data object. provides a common service for indexing and cross-linking a wide range of identifiers, making it easier to cross-link biodiversity datasets, and making them more powerful by harnessing identifiers.

Developed by Miguel Porto
Promising “a new way of looking at species occurrence datasets”, this dynamic web application lets users navigate the relationships within regional species groups that are displayed as an ecologically meaningful network. Its interactive interface shows species’ ecological or biogeographical affinities based on user-selected bioclimatic variables and expands at each step to reveal the network’s complexity.

Developed by Peter Desmet, Bart Aelterman & Nicolas NoƩ
This team has created a ready-to-use browser extension for Google Chrome, offering quick insights about the datasets available through Its chart-based visual approach provides at-a-glance assessments of the occurrences contained in a dataset, enabling a user to assess its fitness for his or her use without having to download, filter and clean the data.

Developed by Ben Raymond & Peter Neish
This application taps the rich if unconventional stream of information available in sound recordings associated with some occurrence records. Drawing on the GBIF API, it reconstructs the natural "soundscapes" using audio files associated with bird and frog occurrences in selected regions.

Developed by Robert P. Anderson, Matthew Aiello-Lammens, Bob Muscarella, Bruno Vilela & Jamie Kass
This submission combines data from the GBIF network with two recently developed tools developed in R, a high-powered programming language for statistical computing and graphics, allowing users to generate predictive distribution models. The web application enables researchers working online or offline to map, filter and remove occurrence records and build, evaluate and visualize complex predictions.

Here is what Rod Page, member of the jury had to say about the winners. He calls this quote rather cheesy but I let you be the judge of that. 

The creativity and ambition displayed by the finalists is inspiring. My biggest hope for the challenge was that the biodiversity community would respond with innovative - even unexpected - entries. My expectations have been exceeded, and the jury is eager to see what the finalists can achieve between now and the final round of judging.

I really like to encourage everyone to play around with these new tools. Most of them are in working condition and what will take place next is refinement. 

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