Routines for database maintenance and further development
While a database may sometimes be perceived as a static deliverable, it is important to realize that LCA data will need to be maintained and updated to stay relevant over time. For example, materials, technologies, practices and processes represented may change, or shifts in the market positions of competing production routes or producing regions can occur. The long-term management, including both maintenance and development, of the database should be planned from the outset. In this Helpdesk we deal primarily with the development of databases that are intended to be actively managed and that impose specific requirements on datasets to be included to ensure consistency.
The responsibility for evaluating the need for data content updates typically rests with the database management. Alternatively, a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) might instead provide the analysis with recommendations as an input to the database management. Periodic reviews based on the available information (e.g. dataset age and reference period, data quality indicators, user feedback, etc.), ideally involving the relevant topic expert(s), can serve to identify and prioritize among the needs for updates. Data content maintenance can be resource-intensive, especially when extensive data collection or modelling efforts are needed to keep information up to date. Any modifications to the information in the datasets or as supplementary material must respect the copyright agreement established between the LCA database organization and the original data source or the dataset providers. Version control and regular (e.g. yearly or biannual), well-documented updates help users to follow how the database content evolves over time, while also enabling unambiguous referencing to the database version used.