User Identification

One of the key advantages of online recording solutions over traditional means of submitting records is that is allows recorders to keep direct control over their records. They can view the “top copy” of their records, check the verification status and make amendments all in real time. These functions all share the prerequisite that not only do we store the name of the recorder with the record, but we maintain a link from the record to the recorder’s login, so that the records are not confused with other people having the same name. In Indicia based online recording, the mechanism by which this link is maintained is not set in stone, unlike most other recording systems, in fact it may not exist at all. This is because the toolkit supports many different types of recording - in some cases it may be appropriate to expect a user to login, but not in others for example. The following sections describe each of the more common scenarios supported by Indicia.

Anonymous recording

In this scenario, no personal details are associated with each record. Generally, a record without the “who” part does not fulfil the minimum requirements of what most people define as the essentials of a biological record: who, what, where and when. However, Indicia is ideal for building surveys which are intended to encourage participation in biological recording at all levels and in some cases not capturing recorder information may be considered appropriate. An example might be a survey designed to inspire school children. In this scenario, records cannot be linked back to the original recorder, which limits their use outside the survey. It also means that feedback such as reports, charts or maps of “my records” cannot be generated.

Recorder name attributes

To complete the basic details of a biological record, custom attributes can be added to a survey to capture the recorder’s first name and surname (or just full name) as well as other personal details such as email or address. This approach is useful when you want to capture records without expecting the user to sign up for a website, but like the anonymous approach above this also means that feedback such as reports, charts or maps of “my records” cannot be generated, because a recorder name by itself does not uniquely identify the recorder.

Easy Login

Indicia provides an optional but highly recommented feature called Easy Login which links any user accounts created on your Drupal website with a user account on the Indicia warehouse. The user’s email is used to uniquely identify users, which means that if someone registers on several websites that share the same warehouse, there will only be one user account created on the warehouse. Therefore each user is uniquely identifiable across the warehouse. This approach has the following benefits over storing a content management system user ID:

  • It becomes possible to report on a user’s records across multiple client websites.
  • Less configuration required for each survey as no custom attributes are required to store the link to the user.
  • User’s preferences could be shared across multiple websites (though data protection issues must be considered).

So, consider the scenario where a user of iRecord (which allows recording of wildlife across the UK) contributes records to the BWARS tree bee survey - Easy Login means that the recorder can see their BWARS records in the My Records section of iRecord. They can keep all their records in one place even if they have used multiple websites to contribute the records.

For more information on the Easy Login feature, see Easy Login.