Reflections on the Eurogard VI congress

Thank you

We have returned from Greece filled with excitement, fond memories and many new friends. We would like to take the opportunity again to thank Dr Eleni Maloupa, the organizing committee and the people of Chios for a great congress. A special thanks also to all of you who visited our stand.

We are proud to announce that The Balkan Botanic Garden of Kroussia has now started to use IrisBG. We wish to welcome you to our community and look forward to supporting the important work you do.

Finally, I would personally like to thank everyone who attended my talk on “The role of information technology in botanic gardens” and thank you for all the positive comments I received. Links to the slides are available below.

What did we learn?

This is the first large congress where we have showcased version 3 of IrisBG. The feedback from the congress was very uplifting, making all the research and hard work that we have invested in IrisBG in the last years worthwhile. We had some long sessions where IrisBG was scrutinized in great detail by delegates from venerable scientific institutions from different parts of Europe. We can conclude that we have found the right balance between scientific rigour and usability. There are always some aspects of the solution that might benefit from some minor improvements, but overall we are confident that IrisBG is a mature product that can be used by the most demanding institutions.

We also had time to sit down with users from Israel, where we looked at how IrisBG handles Hebrew and consequently other right-to-left languages, such as Arabic. We concluded that the current version works satisfactory for mixed text input of traditional left-to-right languages in addition to right-to-left languages.

It was noted that more and more gardens are keen to use maps with their plant collection. Interestingly, many gardens assume that this will require a lot of work on their part before mapping can be used effectively. It was a pleasure to demonstrate that in IrisBG you will not be required to record the exact location of every plant in your collection. When IrisBG display maps, it will use a plants location if available. If not, the “garden area location” will be used instead. In addition, the choice of good satellite maps and other maps available online, makes it possible for many gardens to implement and use maps effectively at a relatively low costs in a very short space of time.

Our strategy for Garden Explorer to support a wide range of platforms through a web interface was very well received. The demonstration of IrisBG on Apple iPad with pinch-zoom and GPS support seemed to impress many of our visitors. Especially, since this can be used, out of the box without any additional installation on the device.

We also met delegates who could be considered to be outside our target audience, such as scientific institutions working on conservation projects and professional landscape architects. After having discussed different aspects of their work, we can already see many features of IrisBG that are clearly beneficial and useful for these types of institutions. We expect to work closely with some of these institutions and hope to support them in their work in the near future.

There were many interesting talks and memorable social events at the congress. The gala dinner was particularly cheerful where we got to experience Greek hospitality in all its splendour. We will resist giving you an extensive report from any of these events, but include a photo taken at the inauguration of the Aegean Botanic Garden Chios. Again, our heartfelt gratitude to the organizers of the congress and to the people of Chios.

Looking ahead

When the resolutions from the Eurogard VI congress are made available, they will be carefully studied to see how our expertise in information technology can support the community of botanic gardens to reach the targets set by the congress. We are always available for discussions on how information technology can assist the community of botanic gardens, in general and in the context of IrisBG.

For us, the congress was a great success on every level. We look forward to talking to some of you in the near future.

If you did not have a chance to attend the Eurogard VI congress, we will also be attending the APGA 2012 conference in Columbus, Ohio on June 19th to 22nd. Alternatively, get in touch directly by email, telephone or comments through the blog.

More details

EuroGard VI website: http://www.eurogardvi.gr

Presentation slides: The role of information technology in botanic gardens.

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