Georeferencing for Paleo Workshop

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This wiki provides logistical resources for the workshop Georeferencing for Paleo: Refreshing the approach to fossil localities. Additional resources that we expect to be active beyond the lifespan of the workshop are hosted on GitHub by the TDWG Earth Sciences and Paleobiology Interest Group.

General Information

When: April 27-29, 2020 (Travel: April 26/27 and 29/30)
Where: Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Organizers: Carrie Levitt-Bussian (Natural History Museum of Utah), Holly Little (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History), Talia Karim (University of Colorado Boulder), Erica Krimmel (iDigBio), Deborah Paul (iDigBio)
Expected number of participants: 35

This workshop will follow iDigBio's Code of Conduct.

Goals & Outcomes

As the paleo collections community wraps up several TCNs we recognize that a significant amount of digitization work remains to be done and that georeferencing is one of the next big roadblocks. Across all collection types, there are major issues with the quality of georeference data currently available on biodiversity data aggregators such as iDigBio and GBIF. For paleo collections, there are additional issues related to applying existing georeferencing workflows in the paleontological context, as well as to sharing georeference data publicly. This workshop will take advantage of the momentum catalyzed by ADBC funding in the paleontological collections community to address critical issues related to georeferencing workflows and georeferencing data quality. We will bring representatives from the paleo TCNs/PENs together with participants representing perspectives external to the existing ADBC community, to:

  • Address the lack and poor quality of specimen georeference data shared on biodiversity aggregators, e.g. the iDigBio Portal, by determining recommendations for the paleo collections community on best practices and workflows for generating and sharing this data.
  • Identify technical barriers to implementing these recommendations and discuss a strategy for communicating them to standards organizations, aggregators, collection management software solutions, and georeferencing software tools.
  • Disseminate the findings of this workshop widely, both within the paleo collections community (including to collectors) and as a resource discoverable by other domains. Findings will include a “toolkit” to share the recommendations on best practices and workflows determined by this workshop.

The organizers hosted two listening sessions in January 2020 to review these goals and plan specific workshop activities. These listening sessions were not restricted to workshop participants. Notes from the listening session have been synthesized here – please feel free to add your own thoughts. Additional community input is also being collected in this document covering challenges, resources, and collection scope.

We expect to host workshop outcome documents on GitHub via the TDWG Earth Sciences and Paleobiology interest group.


Airport: Salt Lake International Airport (SLC)
Workshop hotel: University Guest House, 110 Fort Douglas Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84113
Workshop venue: Natural History Museum of Utah (Swaner Forum), 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
Participant support: Lodging and some meals will be provided. Support for air or ground travel to/from the workshop is available to a limited number of participants.


Details of agenda will be updated and finalized at a later point, however we anticipate the following schedule:

April 27 Monday
Travel to SLC
TBD collection tours at NHMU for anyone arriving early
1:15 - 2:00 Arrive at NHMU and check in with workshop organizers
2:00 - 2:15 Welcome and logistics (Carrie Levitt-Bussian)
2:15 - 2:30 Introduction to agenda, goals, and deliverables (Talia Karim)
2:30 - 3:00 What does existing georeference data look like? (Erica Krimmel)
3:00 - 3:30 Deep Dive: DwC and ABCD standards (Holly Little)
3:30 - 4:45 Lightning talks on workflows, challenges, and solutions from different institutions
Evening social
April 28 Tuesday
8:45 - 9:15 Coffee & Tea
9:15 - 9:30 Morning welcome and plan for the day
9:30 - 9:45 Overview: Public lands and sensitive localities
9:45 - 10:00 Overview: Implementing data standards (Jessica Utrup)
10:00 - 10:15 Overview: Tools for georeferencing (Nelson Rios)
10:15 - 10:30 Overview: Georeferencing data management issues (Giles Miller & Malcolm Penn)
10:30 - 10:45 Overview: Sharing georeferencing resources (Pat Holroyd)
Coffee & Tea
11:00 - 11:15 Inspiration: Tools for georeferencing (Luis Villaneuva)
11:15 - 12:15 BREAKOUT SESSION #1
Lunch (provided)
1:15 - 2:15 BREAKOUT SESSION #2
2:15 - 3:15 BREAKOUT SESSION #3
Coffee & Tea
3:30 - 3:45 Inspiration: Tools for georeferencing
3:45 - 4:45 BREAKOUT SESSION #4
4:45 - 5:00 Debrief on breakout sessions and plan for tomorrow
April 29 Wednesday
8:45 - 9:15 Coffee & Tea
9:15 - 9:30 Morning welcome and plan for the day
9:30 - 10:30 BREAKOUT SESSION #5
10:30 - 10:45 Listening session - what didn't we talk about?
Coffee & Tea
11:00 - 11:15 Synthesis: Public lands and sensitive localities (moderator)
11:15 - 11:30 Synthesis: Implementing data standards (moderator)
11:30 - 11:45 Synthesis: Tools for georeferencing (moderator)
11:45 - 12:00 Synthesis: Georeferencing data management issues (moderator)
12:00 - 12:15 Synthesis: Sharing georeferencing resources (moderator)
Lunch (provided)
1:15 - 1:30 Group photo
1:30 - 2:15 Identify deliverables via moderated full group discussion
2:15 - 2:45 Prioritize deliverables (caucus style!)
2:45 - 3:00 Wrap-up and next steps
Travel home
TBD collection tours at NHMU for anyone leaving later

Local Transportation

To reach the workshop venue and hotel from the airport via public transit, take the TRAX Green Line train to Courthouse Station, transfer to the TRAX Red Line and get off at Fort Douglas Station. Train time is approximately 45 minutes. From Fort Douglas Station, you can either walk 0.3 miles to the University Guest House at 110 Fort Douglas Blvd, or walk 0.8 miles to the Museum at 301 Wakara Way. More details on public transit in Salt Lake City can be found on the Ride UTA website.

Taxi, Lyft, or Uber are also transportation options between the airport and the workshop venue/hotel. Driving time is approximately 20-30 minutes.

The simplest way to travel between the Museum and the University Guest House is by walking (0.7 miles, or 10-15 minutes).

Remote Access

Workshop organizers are discussing the demand and logistical possibility of providing remote access for portions of this workshop. If you would like to register your interest in remote participation, please do so by sending an email to

Reports and Resources