Information managed by WCMC and its collaborators is largely compiled using expert networks or from official sources and in many cases is managed using methods advised by those experts. Information on problems and strategies managed by UIA is largely derived in response to regular mailings to the international organizations it profiles. Both partner organizations are increasing the use of Web sources and "data mining" techniques to supplement other sources.
Corresponding to the copyright and data security constraints of third parties, are those of the principal partners (WCMC and UIA) in seeking to sustain their position as information providers in a complex, highly competitive environment (refer to the pages on Stakeholders and Copyright).
The information content for the envisaged product/service is owned by, or freely available to, two of the project partners: WCMC and UIA. The datasets in question have been generated, and are maintained on a more or less continual basis, by the respective organization partners.
Sensitivity to language issues is no simple challenge for a project with large amounts of text data. Traditional text translation is impossibly expensive, and inappropriate where the intention is for the text to be updated frequently through user feedback. Computer-assisted translation packages are deficient in specialist vocabulary; they also have yet to become sophisticated enough in handling grammar and syntax complexities to achieve more than a crude rendering of English texts into other languages. However, for certain purposes this may be enough.
Logistical compromise in data handling
To ensure the product/service’s relevance to unforeseeable conservation concerns, it must endeavour to provide a context for information on the range of animal and plant species variously estimated at from 5 to 30 million in number—any one of which may emerge as a nexus of environmental concerns. However, comprehensive information at this level of detail is either unavailable or represents an excessive input investment impossible to justify at this time for this project.
In the light of explorations during the Definition Phase, the following constraints have been identified. These constraints would determine the actual design of a "viable" product from a number of different perspectives. In each case, the implications for product development and design are indicated.
Workpackage No 1 Integrated data-sets of endangered European species (birds) protected by treaty was completed by WCMC in April 1997 and delivered on the Web in June 1997 as the Integrated Animal Species Database. This new prototype of an integrated species database identifies whether the animal is on the Red List, and what its geographic distribution is, and whether it is listed on CITES, CMS, Bern Convention, and EC Regulation No.338/97. It also has the details of why each bird species is threatened. This has been largely built as part of the INFO2000 funded project.
The original intention was to produce an online prototype, which would demonstrate online features of the product/service and mimic offline features available to users of the CD-ROM. However, following the Commission's recommendation to prepare an offline demonstration, it was decided to produce a CD-ROM prototype of the product, which could additionally mimic its online capabilities. Formatting the data for CD-ROM upload was a consequence of this decision; this was particularly useful experience in the case of WCMC’s data and the newly developed search query functions.
All the partners in the consortium collaborated in working sessions to discuss and develop a user profile. IEEP developed a user profile for the professional sector, particularly those working with environmental policy (see Section 5.7 Profile of user groups). NSM produced a marketing strategy structured around product recognition, sales and marketing within the Internet environment.
In the Definition Phase, one major concern was to provide a pattern of links between UIA data, WCMC data and relevant external websites. At the same time, given the large quantities of data involved, another concern was to develop estimates of additional work required to integrate, by hyperlinking, the text information held by UIA and WCMC.