Murchison Gorge, Kalbarri National Park Image: H.Ensikat
Murchison Gorge, Kalbarri National Park Image: H.Ensikat

Biodiversity Information Office in brief

The Biodiversity Information Office (BIO) was established in late 2020 to make Western Australian biodiversity data more discoverable, accessible, and useable.  To deliver this change, BIO is developing a whole of state biodiversity data platform – provisionally referred to as the Western Australian Biodiversity Data Repository (WA‑BDR) – to mobilise biodiversity data from all environment-related sectors, including government, industry, research, and the community.

BIO is central to Western Australia’s digital transformation of environmental assessment and approvals. BIO's work will provide decision-makers with access to high-volume, high-quality biodiversity data through seamless integration with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER)’s forthcoming Environment Online platform.  This will enhance the quality, efficiency, and transparency of decisions.

BIO is hosted by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), and also works in partnership with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of the Digital Environmental Assessment Program (DEAP).  Through this codesign initiative, Western Australia will become the first State to deliver data for the Commonwealth’s new Biodiversity Data Repository in 2022, via integration with WA-BDR.

What is the WA-BDR?

BIO is developing a central repository of curated Western Australian biodiversity data, provisionally referred to as the WA-BDR during development.

The WA-BDR will manage biodiversity data across the full data lifecycle, from data ingestion through to data delivery.  It will adopt a flexible and dynamic approach to data submission, receiving data through both a submission portal and automated feeds, without rigidly enforcing a pre-determined data standard or structure.  Instead, data will be mapped to a range of common standards, providing more options for end-users.

After passing through an automated quality assurance gateway, data coming into the WA-BDR will be subject to a robust curation process, informed by authoritative taxonomic data from the Western Australian Museum and Western Australian Herbarium. This quality control process will also provide a comprehensive range of other checks – for example validating location and temporal attributes of incoming data.

In addition to supporting Environment Online and the Commonwealth’s Biodiversity Data Repository, this data in the WA-BDR will be available for broader use, both via a geospatial web portal and via an Application Programming Interface (API) for automation and application development.

Having finalised the high-level design of the WA-BDR in mid-2021, BIO has successfully engaged an external supplier to collaborate on the development of the platform and provide technical advice on the curation and management of biodiversity data.

Building for the future

The WA-BDR has been designed with longevity and interoperability in mind, ensuring it will continue to meet Western Australia’s need for biodiversity data into the future.  The platform’s components - for instance, the submission portal, store, and data delivery portal - will be built as discrete products that can be upgraded and replaced individually as new technologies emerge.

Outward-facing APIs will allow the platform to efficiently receive data from, and transmit data to, other data platforms, and BIO’s approach to data management will provide resilience to changes to biodiversity standards over time. Additionally, the overarching access management and archival components will allow sensitive data (for example, threatened species’ locations) to be responsibly managed, and provide a comprehensive record of data provenance for decision‑makers.

The WA-BDR model

WA BDR model Diagram


What data will be in the WA-BDR?

The WA-BDR will contain data on individual observations of species, data from systematic surveys of plots, and selected data on habitat and ecological community boundaries. Its primary focus will be on terrestrial data, although some estuarine and coastal data will be captured in environmental approvals data.

Upon launch, the WA-BDR will be seeded with a set of high-quality, high-volume environmental datasets sourced from industry and government and generated through environmental approvals processes. This will be augmented with research and regulatory data currently managed by DBCA.

BIO is also working with DWER to embed WABDR submission in environmental approvals processes and the Environment Online platform. This collaboration will ensure that the WA-BDR is regularly refreshed with current data, without requiring industry data providers to upload data to multiple platforms.

When will the WA-BDR be available?

The WA-BDR is scheduled to launch mid-2022, with user feedback driving enhancement and the development of new features throughout 2022-23 and into the future.

Page reviewed 10 Feb 2022