Background: Improvements in telemetry technology are allowing us to monitor animal movements with increasing accuracy, precision and frequency. The increased complexity of the data collections, however, demands additional software and programming skills to process, store and disseminate the datasets. Recent focus on data availability has also heightened the need for sustainable data management solutions to ensure data integrity and provide longer term access. In the last ten years, a number of online facilities have been developed for the archiving, processing and sharing of telemetry data. These facilities offer secure storage, multi-user support and analysis tools and are a step along the way to improving data access, long-term data preservation and science communication. While these software platforms promote data sharing, access to the majority of the data and to the software behind these systems remains restricted. In this paper, we present a comprehensive, highly accessible and fully transparent software facility for animal movement data.
Results: The online system we developed ( http://oztrack.org ) offers a set of robust, up-to-date and accessible tools for managing, processing, visualising and analysing animal location data and linking these outputs with environmental datasets. As OzTrack uses exclusively free and open-source software, and the source code is available online, the system promotes open access not only to data but also to the tools and software underpinning the system.
Conclusions: We outline the capabilities and limitations of the infrastructure design and discuss the uptake of this platform by the Australasian biotelemetry community. We discuss whether an open approach to analysis tools and software encourages a more open approach to sharing data, information and knowledge. Finally, we discuss why a free and open approach enhances longer term sustainability and enables data storage facilities to evolve in parallel with the telemetry devices themselves.