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Providing information on environmental change: Data management, discovery and access in the UK Environmental Change Network Data Centre

This paper, published in a Special Issue of the journal Ecological Indicators to mark 20 years of data collection at ECN terrestrial sites, discusses ECN's informatics approach, which aims to develop a seamless system of data capture, management and data access interfaces to support research.
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.
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Rennie, S. (2016). Providing information on environmental change: Data management, discovery and access in the UK Environmental Change Network Data Centre. Ecological Indicators68, 13-20. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.01.060.

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Development of a clearer understanding of the causes and consequences of environmental change is an important issue globally. The consequent demand for objective, reliable and up-to-date environmental information has led to the establishment of long-term integrated environmental monitoring programmes, including the UK's Environmental Change Network (ECN). Databases form the core information resource for such programmes. The UK Environmental Change Network Data Centre manages data on behalf of ECN (as well as other related UK integrated environmental monitoring networks) and provides a robust and integrated system of information management. This paper describes how data are captured – through standardised protocols and data entry systems – as well more recent approaches such as wireless sensors. Data are managed centrally through a database and GIS. Quality control is built in at all levels of the system. Data are then made accessible through a variety of data access methods – through bespoke web interfaces, as well as third-party data portals. This paper describes the informatics approach of the ECN Data Centre which aims to develop a seamless system of data capture, management and data access interfaces to support research.