The Global Biodiversity Information Facility launched its online portal today during a biological diversity conference in Paris, according to Physorg.com. The search engine allows you to find species anywhere on the globe and easily plot the location on Google Earth. It also includes tools that allow you to download or incorporate the data into your own website.
Honestly, I have no idea what possible business use you could have for this technology -- unless you work with environmental issues or, perhaps, middle school science students. But as I see it, how could a data access portal that accesses 130 million data records across 30 countries and more than 200 institutions NOT be useful?
It can also be used to predict a species' response to environmental changes.
Physorg.com notes that thousands more institutions are expected to join the network of data providers.
If you're not going to use it to save a species, you can at least use it to add an educational twist to your family vacation plans -- or for your nephew's next biology project.