How will you manage and store your data?

Your data management and storage system must also be designed carefully. Without this, you run the risk of losing or throwing out data that took valuable time and resources to gather.

You may want to create a digital system that is organized and easy to use so that data can be retrieved and analyzed to answer the questions and concerns of your program and community. When setting up a new data management and storage system, start by talking to practitioners in other communities who are willing to share the lessons they have learned. The stories 'An Evolving Data Management System: The Mikisew Cree First Nations’ Approach' and 'Building a Regional Monitoring System: The Coastal Stewardship Network’s Approach' are two approaches to developing data management systems.

There are many factors to consider before investing in a system. You may have to trade off between different functionalities. The system that you develop will depend to a large extent on the type of data you collect now or plan to collect in the future.

The following is a list of just a few of the questions you should consider when thinking about data management:

  • Who will manage the data collected by your guardian program?
  • What existing systems for data management are being utilized by your organization (i.e. a referrals system, GIS system, etc.)?
  • What IT support do you currently have for data management?
  • How will your data be analyzed? What format will you need to output your data in? Will you import your data into a GIS or other system?
  • What reporting functions do you envision (i.e. do you want to output summary tables or maps)?
  • Are there collaborative monitoring initiatives that are maintaining data sets that you would like to contribute to?

You may start by inputting your data directly into a basic system like an excel spreadsheet. As your data management needs and capacity grows, you can develop a more comprehensive database.

The database system you use or build will reflect the funding and capacity you have, the information you are working with (i.e. spatial, lab samples, and/or interview transcripts), and how the data will be analyzed and reported on. Considerations for the database are similar to the data collection software – you can develop a custom system or rely on off-the-shelf or open-source solutions.

Keeping your data secure and backed up is of utmost importance. Develop clear guidelines and an approval process for who can use the data management system and what data they can access. User access specifications can be built into more sophisticated data management systems. Consider the pros and cons of storing your data on a cloud or remote server versus a hard server located in your community.



An Evolving Data Management System: The Mikisew Cree First Nations’ Approach


Building a Regional Monitoring System: The Coastal Stewardship Network’s Approach

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Engage and Contribute: ArcGIS Hub for Caribou Conservation Planning and Collaboration

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