What Kinds of Data Can Be Shared with AKN?

The AKN is currently most appropriate for bird survey datasets are collected following a standard survey protocol to be used for monitoring, research or decision-making purposes.  That said, even if AKN isn’t the most appropriate place for your data, there are other places you can input your data where that data can still find its way into the AKN to be used in various publicly available tools and help educate and inform others. For example, E-bird might be more appropriate if you’re a birder who would like to maintain a record of your observations and contribute to citizen science efforts, but you yourself have no specific research or analysis objective in mind for that data. Sharing your data with E-bird is fairly easy, and will help further citizen science efforts E-bird pursues with the data. In addition, since AKN does utilize E-bird data, your data will still likely at some point be connected to AKN and used in tools like the Phenology Tool, IPaC and Observations Map. If you have a question about whether or not your dataset is appropriate for the AKN, please contact an AKN representative.

Ways Data Can Be Shared with the AKN

Data has the ability to be shared with the AKN system and distributed to the tools within AKN in three primary ways. 

  • Direct Data Entry: Users can get a free account, set up a project and enter their data manually, record by record into the system. 
  • Bulk Upload: Users can bulk upload an existing dataset into the system by using the AKN Bulk Uploader tool. 
  • Application Programming Interface (API): User can use data sharing software called an API to connect an existing database to the AKN database, so that data can be shared automatically between the two systems. 
About the AKN Datasets

The AKN currently houses over 800 projects and 8 million data records.

The majority of the datasets in AKN are housed directly in AKN data warehouse. That is, they have been bulk uploaded or each record has been directly entered.  Many of these records are associated with a project and are discoverable via the Data Catalog tool. The projects and all records under them are all controlled by the data owners through the Project Leader application and by individuals they have assigned to enter and manage data associated with the project via the Biologist application.  Two large datasets that currently are handled a little differently in the AKN are the E-bird and Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). Approximately 10 years of data from these datasets have been obtained from the data owners and input directly into the AKN system warehouses by the AKN programmers. They are not housed in the AKN under a project, so metadata about them can not be found in the Data Catalog, and they are not available for download via the Data Downloader. They are also not updated regularly, but the hope is that will change in the future. The last update of these datasets was 2016 for BBS and 2015 for E-bird.  To obtain copies of these datasets, we recommend users go directly to the websites of the data providers at the  eBird and the NA Breeding Bird Survey . 

There are a couple instances of data sharing via an API in the AKN. This is likely the preferred option for data sharing for those wishing to share their data with the AKN database, but also wanting to maintain their data in its original location. An agency of organization can also develop an API to allow their tool or system to use AKN data. The AKN has an example of APIs that work both ways. Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (BCOR) currently shares the data within their own databases with the AKN via an API, while the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s IPaC Tool uses an API to extract the data from AKN that feeds the information in the migratory bird section of IPaC. 

About AKN Data Sharing Levels

Data owners have the ability to apply a data sharing level to each record in their data, which designates how the data is shared and used within the system, and with the users of the system. You can learn more about data sharing levels here

How the Data Works With the AKN Tools

Data records are shared with different tools in the AKN based on the data sharing level applied by the data owner. Typically, records shared at Level 2-5 are shared with publicly available data summary and analysis tools such as the Phenology Tool, Observations Map and IPaC. Records shared at level 5 can also be downloaded by the public via the Data Downloader. All projects in AKN will appear in the Data Catalog. However, how much detail is shared about the records within a particular project  depends on the data sharing level they were shared at. For instance, if all records under the project are restricted, the Data Catalog might only display information about the project, but not the records under it.  

The Analyst tool is a tool that comes with each data owner account, and allows users to view basic summaries and analysis of their data. Data records need not be shared at any particular level to be used in the Analyst tool. You can learn more about the Analyst and see a video tutorial of its features here

The Benefits of Sharing Data with AKN

There a many benefits to putting your data into the AKN system. AKN houses many other datasets and has the ability to aggregate them to enhance the robustness of an analysis, or do larger, landscape level analysis. In addition, AKN offers those that put data in the AKN some basic analysis tools they can use with their data when they establish and account. The AKN toolbox is also improving all the time, and data owners reap the benefits of these improvements. Learn more about the benefits of sharing your data with the AKN.

Steps to Sharing Your Data with the AKN

If you’d like to set up a project and enter data manually into the system: Please follow the instructions on the Upload, Enter and Manage Your Data page for getting an account and setting up your project. 

If you have a large dataset you’d like to bulk upload into the AKN:  If you’re not already familiar with the Bulk Uploader tool, you may need some assistance in preparing and importing your dataset. Please refer to the instructions on the Upload, Enter and Manage Your Data page for the steps in this process.

If you’d like to set up an API connection with an existing external database: This will likely require some programmer assistance, and may require some funding to establish. If you are interested in establishing an API with the AKN, please contact an AKN Representative for more information.