The web portal is the primary means of gaining access to data stored in ÆKOS. It enables browsing, searching, viewing, retrieval, analysis and visualisation of ecological data via a single ‘point of access’. The portal has the twin aims of allowing discovery of relevant datasets, and assessment of the fitness of their content for new research and natural resource management purposes.
Sophisticated security will protect the rights of data providers, granting access to approved parties. If granted access, researchers will use the portal to extract selected data in a range of common formats. Security will be aligned to data licensing enshrining agency and researcher data rights under an AusGoal-type licence framework.
Under ‘the bonnet’, searching in ÆKOS is powered by semantic indexing applying traits (keywords selected from controlled vocabularies).
This provides for rich searches because it exposes key characteristics of the underlying information not just the observed values. For example, a search on Myrtaceae will retrieve species presence at sites for genera such as Backhousia, Eucalyptus, Corymbia and others without the need to specify the individual genera or species.
Equally, when searching for sites where fauna trapping has occurred, data can be selected based on the underlying information including specifics of the collection methods classified by the types of tools, sampling approaches or measured variables.
The portal is being developed using a number of current software technologies which are well suited to the information being handled.
The system is being developed with open source software products, with all source code and documentation intended to be made available at the end of the project.