13 Jul 2022 Project Juniper: an innovative way of Safeguarding and Managing Ecological Data
Ecological consultancy involves the collection of large amounts of data. An effective system to ensure proper safeguarding and management of these data is therefore critical for any consultancy as data are valuable assets, can be costly to secure, and can have a huge influence on important development planning decisions.
Introducing Project Juniper
Project Juniper (or Juniper for short) is an innovative data management and geographical information system that has been designed by our GIS consultancy team to manage all of BSG Ecology’s ecological data securely and efficiently.
To ensure the data going into Juniper are collected in a consistent manner, we have largely moved over to using mobile tech for field survey (in the form of high specification Tablets with dedicated software). The software allows us to customise data input to our needs via an intuitive template-based approach for all regularly completed survey work. This requires the surveyor to populate standard fields in a consistent and robust manner.
Benefits to Staff
Juniper permits company-wide habitat and species data to be accessed and interrogated on a site-by-site basis, or as a whole, by both our GIS team and our ecologists. It also ensures greater consistency in data analysis and presentation than was previously possible and enables the automated production of tables for reports giving information about long-running programmes of survey, thus minimising the (potentially costly and time consuming) need to both produce the tables manually and deal with errors. As the system has started to bed in, we have seen significant benefits to our staff in terms of time saved.
In conjunction with the roll out of Juniper, all staff have been given extensive foundation training in the use of the new system, the mobile technology and on how to use the various proformas to input data.
Benefits to Clients
Knowing that there is a robust system of data management in place should provide reassurance to our clients. All data are stored securely and backed up to a cloud, the system is straightforward to interrogate (to track progress in surveying for example), and easy to extract information from. As a result, reproducing figures and presenting information obtained from survey work is extremely straightforward. This improves the quality, consistency and efficiency of our outputs.
Further Development of Juniper
The next phases of development of Juniper are to build more bespoke models and python plugins for QGIS to assist in data analysis. This process has begun; we already have a variety of models for complex tasks such as creating vantage point viewsheds (which is important for wind farm survey work) and to analyse and model biodiversity gain data. We are now moving on to develop a plugin to run collision risk analysis for birds at operational windfarms. The system will ensure that calculations based on the data provided are accurate and repeatable, thus providing confidence in the results.
Juniper has been a fantastic addition to the way we operate and is testimony to the technical ability and creativity of our GIS team. However, as with all technology, the development never ceases, and Juniper will continue to evolve.
If you need GIS support or assistance in managing ecological data, please get in touch with one of our offices.