Vesper: Visualising Species Archives
Kennedy, J. (2014). Vesper: Visualising Species Archives. Ecological Informatics, 24, (), 132-147.
Vesper (Visual Exploration of SPEcies-referenced Repositories) is a tool that visualises Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) datasets, and is aimed at reducing the amount of time and effort expended by biologists to ascertain the quality of data they are generating or using. Currently, DwC-A quality checking is limited to table outputs of data ‘existence’ and compliance with DwC-A format guidelines via the online DwC-A archive validator and reader. While these tools thoroughly examine the presence of data, and the correctness of data structure against the DwC-A schema, they do not give any insight into the underlying quality of the data itself.
Vesper can handle client-side data sets of a million entities within a browser by judicious use of data filtering, as many of the data types within individual records are not necessary to judge the geographic, temporal or taxonomic distribution and extent of a dataset. Thus, many of the more verbose fields in the file can simply be passed over during an initial data decompression stage. Furthermore it can provide limited name and structure matching of a dataset against DwC-A packaged reference taxonomies to indicate data quality relative to sources outside the archive. A selection of annotated example scenarios shows how Vesper can reveal data quality issues in DwC-A archives.
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Information visualisation is the use of enhanced Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) to communicate and interact with complex data sets such as social networks, multiattribute tables, and financial data. Pages of text and numbers are not the most effective way to communicate or understand information.