Kent and Medway Biological Records Centre

Our Technology

FigwortCommon figwort (

Scrophularia nodosa

)
© Steve Smith
The Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre is reliant upon computer technology for all aspects of the services we provide. Reliable software and hardware are vital for efficient data entry, storage and allowing us to complete enquiries rapidly and provide high quality service to our partners, commercial organisations and the wider recording community.

Data Entry and Storage Software

This is pivotal to the work we do at KMBRC; it is the heart of our operation as everything else we do ultimately revolves around data. Our main database is Recorder 6. This is a specialist biological recording database built on top of Microsoft SQL Server which we use to store the majority of species data. We can also store metadata within Recorder such as recorders' details, information about locations around Kent, photographs and related literature. Recorder 6 is a flexible piece of software that provides a standard framework for biological data storage and allows easy data exchange between organisations and individuals; development of the software is led by the Joint Nature Conservation Commitee. Data from spreadsheets and other recording packages can easily be imported into this main database.

Other software we use for holding data include COBRA, a specialist bird record DOS database based on Advanced Revelation , Marine Recorder for marine data and some custom MSAccess and MSExcel databases for survey and bat data.
Gorse ShieldbugGorse shieldbug (

Piezodorus lituratus

)
© Steve Smith


Mapping and GIS

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a complex piece of software that are most often used for producing maps on computer. Our reports contain maps showing designated areas, broad habitat types or Biodiversity Action Plan Priority habitats, and our printer hardware enables us to produce maps for any size up to A0. GIS can also be used to relate datasets, such as whether a species occurs within a certain habitat, or geological type. At KMBRC we use ESRI ArcMap for our main GIS although we also have access to MapInfo and various open source and freeware GIS solutions.

Data Output

Data from the databases are extracted to enable us to produce reports for anyone who submits an Information Request Form. The final report is produced using MSExcel and GIS and then converted to a PDF to be sent to the recipient. In between, various custom data manipulation code and tools are used that have been developed by KMBRC staff to put the raw data into a useful format. These range from GIS templates, VBA functions in MS Excel and a Bird Summary Reporter built in MS Access to summarise the large number of bird records.

KMBRC Network

You have to love computers as much as biodiversity to enjoy working at KMBRC! We use lots of other computer applications for tasks such as presentations, managing data enquiries, maintaining the website and keeping our accounts. All our computer files are stored on our file server with appropriate back-up systems in place.