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Post Info TOPIC: SWIFT ON-LINE RECORDING SYSTEM (Greater Manchester's preferred recording system)


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SWIFT ON-LINE RECORDING SYSTEM (Greater Manchester's preferred recording system)


Hi Angela,

Thanks for taking the time to post for help. If it's easier I can talk you through using Swift over the phone (0161 342 3123). I will try and answer your questions here too though for the benefit of other people that might have the same hurdles to getting started but havn't reached out.

Greater Manchester Local Record Centre always had a website, gmwildlife.org.uk (it goes by gmlrc.org these days). That website couldn't really do biological recording though. There was a simple form but no way for people to register and login or report upon records they'd submitted.

To enhance the website we built a database and coded a bunch of new features that would together create a more complete biological recording app. Enhancments included: security and user accounts, a records spreadsheet import tool, an updatable species dictionary, fully featured MapApp, basic record query tools and the ability to attach photos, videos and sound clips to records. This additional stuff was developed under the name 'Swift' to differentiate it from the website. Indeed Cheshire Record Centre also run a copy of Swift under their recording website. We chose the name Swift because the development ethos was very much to build something fast to load and interact with but also fast to learn, clearly we fell short on the fast to learn bit

To get into Swift go to gmwildlife.org.uk (or gmlrc.org, it's the same place) and click on the user icon in the top right corner of the page. You'll be asked for a username and password. Once logged in clicking on the user icon again will display options such as 'My Files' (used to create files you can enter records into) and 'View Records' (used to query and download your records).

At the moment users can only query and download their own records. With the exception of GMEU Ecologists, Local Authority Conservation Staff (e.g. Salford Rangers), Lancs Wildlife Trust, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and a few nominated GMBRG 'admins'. We have discussed creating the feature you ask about i.e. allowing people to view a map containing everybody's records. Whilst technically this is easy to do there are some privacy and sensitive speces concerns we need to bottom out before we enable this. I'm intending to work with Steve and Ian to define what we can and can't do in this space. We wouldn't want people to withhold important nesting sites for instance due to fear of the precise location being disclosed.

The Ecology Unit advise Local Planning Authorities on 10 to 15 planning applications everyday as well as being responsible for selecting and reviewing locally significant Sites of Biological Importance. The Ecology Unit also have a central role in the Local Nature Recovery Strategy and implementation of the up and coming Biodiversity Net Gain system. The data recorders like yourself submit is really important to inform this work as well as allowing us to see trends over time. Thanks for sharing your observations with GMBRG and GMEU. There are approximately 300 active users of Swift in Greater Manchester submitting an average of 17,000 observations each month. From the moment these observations are submitted they are available to inform local decision making. Thank you isn't a strong enough set of words to acknowledge the combined effort of volunteers across Greater Manchester.





-- Edited by GM Local Record Centre on Tuesday 5th of April 2022 10:00:52 AMBest wishes,Paul @ GMLRC

-- Edited by GM Local Record Centre on Tuesday 5th of April 2022 10:03:49 AM

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Greater Manchester Local Record Centre www.gmwildlife.org.uk


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Will you please do this stuff so complete technophobes like me stand a chance?!

Having totally failed to find anything called swift I could use to submit records via my computer, I did a search on the 'phone and ended up with this page on my 'phone (I'm using my computer now...) but I still don't know how to get access to submit records using swift. So I downloaded the "getting started with swift" pdf even though what I really wanted was a link. Except I don't know how to open pdf's on my phone... . I clicked again hoping something would open and it just asked if I wanted to download it again?! No!!! I just want to see what it says and hope it contains a link I can click!  hmm (no idea what this emoji's supposed to represent but it looks a bit nonplussed) I am so sick of technology! I'm seriously thinking of joining the Amish...!

Ah! Now I've just clicked  the Swift Guidance file on the 'phone and it did ask me how I wanted to open it, so I did manage to open that pdf. So it's just actually the same thing I was using before but you've called it swift but not said so on the website? Or am I still failing to find something actually called SWIFT?! I can tell one thing anyway - it was named to commemorate a bird species, not because it's quick and easy to understand and employ...!no 

I only logged-on to see if I could find anyone having reported sand martins yet...?! Still no idea how to find that out... . Could you create a catalogue so a person can type in a species name and it comes up with any recent submissions that include that species? Or am I missing the point of the site? Probably... .



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Hi David, Ian and all Bird Recorders,

The problem with the website was fixed early this morning. Swift is now swift again. Whilst I've spent a few hours testing various features I'd be interested to hear if you spot anything out of the ordinary. I keep an eye on this forum so a message here is fine.

Long story short... We had an issue with our server hosting company. They aggressively applied lots of software updates to their servers and broke something. Due to them making so many changes though they were unable to figure out exactly how to fix the problem they'd created. We'd been with that hosting company since 2009 with no issues so wanted to work with them to restore services and give them the benefit of the doubt. After a week working with their senior tech team though it was evident that nothing they'd tried with us had made any meaningful difference and they were out of ideas. We made the decision on friday to find a new hosting company. Over the weekend we tried 4 alternative hosting companies and made a decision last night to go with the preferred service.

Last night I moved everything from gmwildlife.org.uk to gmlrc.org and I've put an auto redirect in place. Eventually we will move over the gmwildlife name too. Thanks for bearing with us whilst we fix this issue.


Best wishes,

Paul @ GMLRC

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Greater Manchester Local Record Centre www.gmwildlife.org.uk


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I hadnt seen that message Ian, thanks

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Have you seen the message on the Swift homepage Dave, been up for a few days now.



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Can I ask whether there is currently any known issue with servers or suchlike, which are affecting Swift?
For the past few days it has been extremely slow when trying to log in on my phone, whether on a 4G mobile network or on WiFi. Once logged in it is then very slow (typically about three minutes) to access my files or set up a new one, equally when then trying to open a map to place a record.

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Thanks David and Simon for your positive feedback on Swift. Ian McKerchar and I have been using Swift since March/April this year, as have a number of other GMBRG recorders. We are all very pleased with its performance whether inputting records whilst out in the field, or back home. The developer, Paul Barrington, the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit's Biodiversity Data Manager, is to be congratulated on creating a really user friendly recording system which as far as I'm concerned does just about everything you could expect of it.

However, Paul is always open to suggestions for further improvement, so once you have used it please get in touch if you can think of ways of making it even better. The order in which the species appear on the drop down list is based on the number of records currently held in GMEU's database. However, the weighting can be adjusted if required.

As, David and Simon have mentioned, one of the major benefits compared to MapMate and the GMBRG Excel recording form is using the embedded map to zoom into a location and obtain an accurate grid reference. Whilst it is clearly not practical to do this for every Blackbird, Robin and Wren you see there are certain species which are definitely worth recording accurately, especially Schedule 1 birds and Red-listed/Amber-listed species. See also the attached Section 41 Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act list of habitats and species which are of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England. The list covers those habitats and species which occur in Greater Manchester. These are the species which are taken into account by GMEU's ecologists when assessing the potential impacts of planning applications and records for these are held on a series of alert layers on a GIS database which maps them at the locations where they were recorded.

The Greater Manchester Local Record Centre's Getting Started with Swift Guide and GMBRG's own guidance for its recorders are attached. Please note that the GMLRC logo at the bottom of the forum page takes you to the Simple Record Form and not to Swift.

If you have any questions please get in touch with Ian or me.

Steve



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RE: SWIFT RECORDING SYSTEM


Originally posted by Simon Gough on November 30th:

 

I agree with David, I started submitting records this way during lockdown and the system is really good, the mapping integration is outstanding so you can literally zero in on the right tree and drop the pin. So easy to capture things and real citizen science. It also captures any other wildlife so you can do butterflies and odonata and mammals too. 



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Originally posted by David Walsh on November 29th:

 

At Steve Atkins suggestion, I switched from MapMate to the GMLRC Swift recording method earlier this summer, and find it both quick and easy to use, either by iPad or phone. It means that my records are more up to date, and therefore more accurate, being fresh in my mind, particularly the all important breeding records. There is also a function to mark sensitive records as such, restricting access. 

It also has the advantage of the user not having to select which site in which to enter the record, because a touch of the screen drops a pin and selects not only the grid reference for the record, but also any SBI that may be relevant (witness the recent confusion from some observers at Elton this month). 

I would recommend it for those entering large numbers of records, but it is so user friendly that those who currently do not submit records because of lack of time or expertise really now have no excuse. 

Give it a go. 



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Originally posted by Rob Smallwood on November 29th:

Are e-Bird sightings sent 9n to you?



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SWIFT ON-LINE RECORDING SYSTEM (Greater Manchester's preferred recording system)


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This forum is dedicated to the memory of Eva Janice McKerchar.