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The second annual National Workshop was held March 18-19, 2010 in Wellington. Close to 40 participants attended, representing local government from Auckland to Southland, as well as DoC, CRI's, central government and independent consultants.
25 presentations, 13 work sessions and a debate were held over the two days. The content was designed to inform and update, and to create opportunities to plan and problem-solve current issues in biodata management.
24 workshop participants provided the following feedback.
24 participants agreed (16 strongly) with the statement “The relationships I built at this workshop will be useful.”
Many participants cited the simple act of putting “names to faces” was valuable. They felt that meeting colleagues in person meant collaboration by distance would be more likely to happen and more fruitful when it did. Participants reported that comparing and contrasting ideas, systems, practices and problems was useful in a very practical way. They said that they found these discussions were a form of peer review. Overall, participants reported that the workshop enabled them to enlarge and strengthen their professional network. This was particularly valuable for those who work in small teams. Participants also said that they now knew more precisely who to contact about solving problems or sourcing data.
24 participants agreed (17 strongly) with the statement “The awareness I gained at the workshop will be useful.”
Many participants reported that they were exposed to data sources of which they were not previously aware. They also reported increased general awareness of the biodata landscape in New Zealand including, “access to national-level data standards, data collection methods, datasets and databases.” Some participants found that they were now able to, “grasp technical concepts that are now [required as] part of my usual field of expertise.” They also said that this new awareness would enable them to communicate more effectively with their managers about biodata issues.
22 participants agreed (11 strongly, 1 was neutral, 1 did not respond) with the statement “The opportunities I identified at the workshop will be useful.”
Participants frequently reported that they would now be incorporating new data tools, such as NVS, NABIS and NZOR into their biodata management work, saving time and money, as well as increasing quality of data (collection and storage): “Access to national-level data standards, data collection methods, datasets and databases will save a lot of time and allow better science and better management outcomes.” Several reported that the “workshop [will] help to re-energise and refocus what we are doing and how we are getting there. Gets out of being 'bogged down'.” Other participants saw opportunities in increased co-ordinated regional and national reporting standards, as well as “linking biosecurity and biodiversity reporting.” The general positive effect of making “new relationships with other peers to be part of new initiatives” was also reported.
Overall, participants reported that networking was the most positive aspect of the workshop for them. They found it beneficial to “put faces to names” and “build relationships with peers”. As an extension of that, participants also found it equally useful to identify common issues and unified solutions to problems. They particularly noticed that the Dataversity community has become “more unified in our response to those issues.” “Knowledge of new developments “and “knowing potential for centralised national systems is in motion” were also reported as key benefits. Others mentioned that they were able to learn “more about what database products are out there and which ones I could possibly use myself.” General increased comprehension of biodata issues was also listed as a plus, and participants felt they would now be able to engage with the Dataversity forum with higher levels of understanding. Participants also reported that the workshop was useful in re-energising them about ongoing projects.
Many participants reported only positive feedback, however there were several suggestions about how future workshops could be more effective. Participants reported that they found the close proximity of groups during the parallel work sessions made it “hard to hear soft speakers and was at times distracting.” They suggested at least one of the three groups be moved to an adjacent space. Others wished that the work sessions were not in parallel to allow them to attend all the streams in which they had an interest. One participant suggested including more hands-on workshops and demonstrations to see actual tools (hardware and systems) in action. Another participant suggested that more static visual displays from participants be featured to allow newcomers to familiarize themselves with different organizations. Two participants suggested that it would be useful for more representatives from government agencies to attend, as well as more researchers, scientists and other end-users of the data. They would also have liked to see more district councils attend.