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The BRC - Building an Effective Database

By Geoff Trevis

The future of the BRC depends critically on the development of its management structure, on funding and on putting in place the protocols to achieve NBN accreditation. Other articles in this edition of the Record deal with these aspects but without an extensive, detailed and well managed database all else is doomed to failure. The database and its management have been in the hands of volunteers, including John Meiklejohn, the BRC Manager, virtually since the inception of the Centre and, more recently, John Partridge has been a regular at Lower Smite Farm.

Shortly after transferring the records to Lower Smite Farm I felt it was vital that voluntary recorders had a strong input into the decisions about how data is collected, used and stored and what the minimum data set for a record should be. To this end I invited a representative selection of active recorders and computer database experts to a meeting to discuss these issues. Initially we met in a pub which I hoped would provide a relaxed and informal atmosphere in which problems could be aired and everybody could have a say. It quickly became apparent that something more formal was needed and a setting required which allowed everybody to participate. We, therefore, transferred to the Trust H.Q..

Several meetings have been held covering vital issues about data input and collection and the information required. Contacts have been made with people holding databases regarding particular groups or geographical areas and agreement reached about lodging data with the BRC. These other groups include Mike Averil’s dragonfly records, Butterfly Conservation’s records and records from the Wyre Forest Study Group. We hope that data from other groups will follow. We have also discussed the concept of site definition and naming for use with the definitive BRC data, using Recorder 2000, and we will be dealing more fully with matters of release and use of data. At the same time we have been dealing with questions of what data needs to be collected, where the gaps are and what we can do to address the problems. You will also be aware of the recording days organised for the group by Harry Green, the public appeals which have gone out for data and that Harry is developing a project to update and publish the Mammals Atlas. We try to keep you up to date with progress through the Worcestershire Record and the annual recorder’s meeting.

The Group is myself (chairman), Harry Green, John Meiklejohn, John Partridge, Bert Reid, Martyn Hodgson, Patrick Taylor and Gary Farmer. Our objective is to ensure that the input from volunteers is of the highest quality and is providing data in the most efficient way to maximise the value of your work. If you have any ideas about the centre or any other matters you would like to raise please do contact me or any other member of the group. I should stress that we are not the formal management team of the centre but rather an informal group meeting to provide the forum for volunteer input.

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