Over the past year there have been several exciting conversations about the possibilities of digital representations of the billions of specimens currently held in the world’s natural history collections. Two concepts—the Digital Specimen proposed by the Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo) in Europe and the Extended Specimen emerging from the Biological Collections Network (BCoN) in the United States—are now aligning towards a shared vision that connects all information related to a specimen, creating in effect “digital twins” for the materials held in scientific collections.
An ongoing global consultation seeks to engage the wider community on a handful of topics that have technical, financial, social, governance and professional implications that require broader discussion and consensus. The alliance for biodiversity knowledge consultation on Converging Digital and Extended Specimens: Towards a global specification for data integration aims to expand participation in the process, build support for further collaboration, identify key use cases, and develop an initial roadmap for community adoption and implementation.
The five topics being discussed during the consultation include:
- Digitizing/mobilizing FAIR data for specimens
- Extending, enriching and integrating data
- Annotating specimens and related data
- Crediting and attributing tasks like data and material curation
- Analyzing/mining specimen data for novel applications
On February 16, two virtual opening sessions, featuring overviews of the Digital Specimen and Extended Specimen concepts and the five discussion topics, kicked off the consultation. The opening events were attended by more than 250 individuals from across the globe. Recordings from these events are now available.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) invites you to become involved in the Discourse discussion process by visiting the GBIF community forum landing page for the consultation. This page holds guidance on the consultation process, background documents, and links to the discussion threads. If you are a new user of the GBIF community forum you will need to register.
You can also follow the conversation on Twitter. Check out the event hashtag #DigExtSpecimen.
NSC Alliance, BCoN, DiSCCo, iDigBio, and Atlas of Living Australia, among others, contributed to the planning and coordination of this event.