The ALA and the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL) recently ran a series of half-day workshops on data quality at the University of Canberra and Griffith University, Queensland. The workshops were presented by Lee Belbin, designer of the ALA’s Mapping and Analysis Tools (also know as the Spatial Portal). The workshops demonstrated the value in linking the filtering and data visualisation tools within the ALA with the BCCVL’s advanced modelling tools. 

Data quality is one of the most significant issues for the research community. Lee provided workshop participants with a background in how to use the ALA’s mapping and analysis tools to help identify issues and remove records from data so that it is ‘fit for purpose’. The ALA runs around 100 tests against all received data and sets flags if issues are detected. These flags are visible in the ALA and in downloaded data. 

Not all data issues can be detected by these tests but the tools within the ALA’s mapping and analysis portal are efficient in identifying most of the problems. If a species was originally misnamed and its location is found in an area of its correct name, then even an expert may have trouble recognising an issue, unless ancillary data (e.g. a quality photograph or field notes) is available. 


Participants at the recent workshop ‘Innovative tools for mapping and modelling species distributions’ presented by Lee Belbin, from the ALA.

The workshops were well attended and participants were pleased with the content. A few comments from workshop attendees are provided below:

“Learned how to filter data – it works well for us OCD types.”

“My first use of the ALA – amazing tool for cleaning data.”

“Really well thought out and clearly presented.”

“Learning that this tool exists! It is amazing! It should be more widely known. Great job.”

“Lee was engaging and fun to listen to!”

“Clearly explained with good instructor and elaborate handout. It was good to go through each step.”


If you would like to attend the next workshop being held in Melbourne on 14 October 2016 go to Innovative tools for mapping and modelling species distributions.

If you would like to arrange a similar workshop suited to your requirements, please contact us.