31 January 2020
The First GFN Shrewsbury Event: the Biodiversity Data Hack
Good for Nothing Shrewsbury ran its first event, Bringing Shropshire's Biodiversity Data to Life, on Saturday 25th January 2025.
The idea for the event was to bring together Shropshire biodiversity, technology and data experts, to work together on the following brief:
Shropshire has plenty of biodiversity data, but it’s in a multitude of different places/formats. It’s quite hard for the people of Shropshire, or people making decisions about Shropshire, to use the data in helpful ways. How can we make Shropshire’s biodiversity data more accessible?
We spend some time setting the context, talking about the particular challenges of working with biodiversity data in Shropshire. To find out more about Shropshire biodiversity data, look at the Shropshire Ecological Data Network website.
We also explained the intended way of working:
- looking for small steps forward in solving a challenge
- keeping an eye on the bigger picture, so those small steps move us towards longer term aims
We then split into groups looking at three different streams of work:
1. Can we create a friendlier way of searching for the data?
This group discussed how providing context and intrepretation for data was at least, perhaps more, important than the data itself. The group came up with some initial ideas on how to make biodiversity data relevant to a wider audience.
2. Can we simplify the techie things behind the scene to make it work more simply?
We were very lucky to have Reuben Roberts from the National Biodiversity Network and this group spent their time working out how a Shropshire biodiversity website might use the NBN's API to retrieve data.
3. Do we know where we want to be in the long term with Shropshire biodiversity data
A select group of deep thinkers spent some time working on a theory of change for Shropshire's biodviersity data, focusing on what value biodiversity data might have for the financial and insurance sectors.
What did we learn?
- The time spent setting the context was valuable, because of the wide range of different perspectives in the room. Next time we'll try and do more of that context setting ahead of time, and provide a more detailed brief.
- The time we had only allowed us to scratch the surface of finding solutions.
- But the atmosphere was terrific, the openness & willingness to get involved from all involved was quite moving to watch. It was a terrific starting point for Good for Nothing Shrewsbury.
The intention from here is to see which of the strands of work above could benefit from some more focussed Good for Nothing involvement.
If you want to be involved in future Good for Nothing events, either on biodiversity or other topics, then follow us on Twitter and sign up at https://www.goodfornothing.com/chapter/shrewsbury
If you know other people who you think might be interested in making Shropshire an even better place and solving some local challenges, encourage them to sign up too.
If you know of any venues who might be willing to host us, or businesses who might be willing to sponsor us, or charities or community groups who might want us to solve their challenges, get in touch via Twitter
With thanks to...
- Everyone who joined us on the day - thankyou for being so positive and engaged and making it such a pleasure.
- Preston Montford Field Centre for kindly allowing us to use their venue
- Severn Partnership for their generous sponsorship, which allowed us to provide some food & drinks to everyone as they worked
- Good for Nothing Chester, for their very practical advice and for the sheer inspiration they've provided by the brilliant things they're doing and the amazing way they do it. I can honestly say I wouldn't have started this without that inspiration.