The EU BeePartnership [1], a stakeholder discussion group, dynamised by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), is developing a new online platform to help respond to the challenges that pollinators are facing. The EU Bee Partnership Prototype Platform on Pollinator Health (EUBP-PP) [2] is a unique platform aiming to collect, integrate and visualise pollinator-related data from different sources. This platform is supported by a wide range of stakeholders, allowing it to exploit data for the well-being of pollinators and their role in our environment.

The platform prototype accomplishes one of the main objectives of the EU Bee Partnership: integrating harmonised pollinator-related data to create the effective measures needed to protect pollinators. The prototype also represents an overlapping effort to advance on practical standardisation of data, as being developed by the Apimondia Bee XML Group [3]. Bee XML stakeholders agree that data needs to be compatible, shareable and accessible, thus requiring a standard data output.

BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination, an EUBP stakeholder, had already successfully developed a Proof of Concept of the platform within the framework of the Internet of Bees Project (2017-2020) [4], and now leads the development of the platform with the support of all EUBP stakeholders and EFSA. They are boosting the prototype stage, including more data sources and functionalities to the platform. EFSA has been funding the prototype since June 2020 under the procurement contract (NP/EFSA/SCER/2020/01). Stakeholders gathered online for  the 7th EUBP discussion meeting on October 27, and reiterated  their support for the creation of this platform. 

The developing EUBP prototype platform works on three levels: Data Acquisition, Data Integration and Data Visualisation. 

Data acquisition: negotiations for data sharing are conducted, and an agreement is concluded with new data providers. Data providers might be independent researchers, authorities, national or EU  projects, producers of beehive or pollinator monitoring systems, farming or beekeeping associations, or data scientist collectives, among others. An agreement is reached in which the platform will only process and visualise the data provided. The original owner retains the property of the data, and providers can freely revoke their consent for sharing or visualising the data in the platform. 

Data Integration: new data is introduced into the more extensive database of the platform, including both static and dynamic datasets. Static are datasets that will not include new data in the future (a one-time input). On the other hand, dynamic datasets have a continuous flow of data. An Application Programming Interface, or API, is developed for periodic or live updates of the platform. In cases such as digital monitoring systems installed in beehives, an API is set to transfer data from the data provider to the platform automatically. 

Data Processing and Communication: data is analysed and made available to the public in an accessible way. Through an interactive map available on the platform's website, users can navigate a never-before-seen collection of data relevant to pollinator health and make sense of it. Not only can the users find otherwise hard-to-find data, but they can also make use of this tool to assess and to create/implement solutions to minimise risks for pollinators strategically. In the long term, periodic thematic reports will also be provided to ease the access of information.

Currently, data collection and storage is not streamlined, and neither is it centralised. Although collaborations and data sharing may occasionally be envisaged, there are yet no standardised methods. Besides, until now, no platform integrates this data to make it available to the public. Although different stakeholders continuously collect valuable information on pollinator health, there is still a missing ingredient to reach a new level of awareness on the condition of pollinators and their challenges. The EUBP prototype platform is a response to this situation and introduces a tool to improve our knowledge and decision making for the benefit of pollinators. 

The EU Bee Partnership Prototype Platform is expanding thanks to the collaborative spirit of a diverse set of stakeholders. The platform aims to improve collaboration and  integrate different sources of data for a common objective: to have a clear and centralised picture about the situation of pollinators. Any potential data provider is welcome to participate in future developments.

The EUBP will unveil the final prototype in February 2021. Protecting pollinators is essential, and we need to unleash the power of data. Through new collaborations, we can better integrate and communicate on the status and risks of pollinators, and we can foster the economic development of those who depend on pollinators and pollination.

(If you have relevant data and wish to take part in this new platform, you can become a data provider. With comprehensive data-sharing agreements, your ownership of data and your privacy are highly valued and protected).

- ENDS -

Communications and Project Officer at BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination / Liaison Officer EU Bee Partnership Platform Prototype on Pollinator Health

Note to editors: 
The EU Bee Partnership is a stakeholder group initiated in 2017 at the request of the EU Parliament and hosted by the European Food Safety Authority. It includes stakeholders and observers from a wide variety of sources including research networks, advocacy groups, farmers and beekeeping associations, field practitioners, and more. 

[1] EFSA. 2018. Terms of Reference for the EU Bee Partnership. en-1423 
[2] EU Bee Partnership Prototype Platform 
[3] Apimondia Bee XML Working Group
[4] BeeLife. 2020. The Bee Hub - Developing an Integrative Platform for Pollinator Health Data.