FieldData software

See also:

What is FieldData?

FieldData (also known as the BDRS, Biological Data Recording System) was developed by Gaia Resources on behalf of the Atlas of Living Australia (Atlas) to help individuals, researchers, community groups and natural resource management groups collect and manage biodiversity data. For the citizen scientist, it provides a means to contribute sightings, photos and other files to a project and to then see and edit their records.

FieldData is Open Source software that can:

  • provide data collection and management capabilities to an existing website—a ‘data plug-in’


  • create a simple website for collecting and managing data.

Functions of the software include:

  • create species profile pages
  • create and manage data collection forms, eg for different types of surveys
  • create and manage multiple websites, eg for different partner organisation,
  • provide different look and feel for the different websites
  • access controls
  • establish projects with associated activities and data
  • create online surveys for data collection
  • map observations recorded
  • generate simple reports of data
  • share data with the Atlas as considered appropriate

What can FieldData do for you?

Citizen scientists can use the software to:

  • contribute something meaningful to scientific research on biodiversity in Australia
  • discover new things about the environment you live in
  • see your data online and compare it to what others are contributing.

Naturalist groups can use the software to:

  • easily build forms for recording observations that are then published online
  • enable members to login and participate in online surveys
  • quickly generate maps and reports from the data collected by your members.

Environmental educators can use the software to:

  • engage with a wider audience using the web
  • easily build recording forms and publish them online
  • create species pages to provide your volunteers with meaningful information on species
  • add simple identification tags to species to allow people to dynamically identify species.

Researchers and scientists can use the software to:

  • easily build recording forms and publish them online
  • allow interested people to register and start recording their observations
  • extract information for further analysis.

What can’t FieldData do for you?

FieldData is not an all encompassing naturalist/community group management system. It provides primarily the functionality required to record, manage and review observational data about species.

Neither is FieldData a development environment: it is an end user product. While it does take some work to install and prepare, it is not aimed at being a compartmentalised series of developer tools, but a product. To that end, work on things like APIs and so on has not been included.

Current implementations

Currently, FieldData has been implemented by the Atlas in several projects including:

A full list of the projects using the software is available from

Across all of our implementations of FieldData, one thing is common: we want to provide useful tools for people to use, but we also want to help make this data available to a wider audience, by allowing the data to be shared through the Atlas.

Installing FieldData

At the moment, installation of the software is a manual process, although we are working on easier methods to do this. At this time, installing a new version of the portal requires the following skills:

  • Basic knowledge of Java servlet based web application deployment.
  • The ability to configure the toolkit to communicate with the database.
  • The ability to compile the toolkit software from source code (not necessarily on the server).
  • The ability to upload the built software to the server and place it in the appropriate place.
  • Full administrative privileges on the server machine.

If you can do this, you will also need to have a minimum set of technical requirements before you can install the toolkit:

  • a web server, with a minimum of 1GB RAM and at least 10GB of hard drive space (if your users will be uploading files such as photos then more disk space will be required), running Linux, Apache and Tomcat. We recommend that you install the software on a server with at least 2GB RAM and dual core processor running Ubuntu 10.04 or OpenSuSE 10.3.
  • a PostgreSQL database installed on the web server, with the PostGIS extensions
  • a copy of the software (available from the Google Code repository)

More detailed instructions on how to install the software are available on the wiki in the Google Code repository.

Note: The Atlas is not able to provide support to anyone wanting to install the software. Contact Gaia Resources for commercial support.

See Code samples for sample code that you can download and use in your own version of the software.

Hosting FieldData

The Atlas has a very limited capability to host an instance of the toolkit for citizen science and community groups. If you would like the Atlas to host a site for you contact us and we will consider your request.


  • The Atlas is only able to support non-commercial community groups.
  • The Atlas has limited resources and may be unable to meet any or all requests for assistance.

Commercial support for the software is available from Gaia Resources.