HISCOM 2001 AGM Sydney

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The 2001 HISCOM Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney from 12 – 13 November, 2001. This document represents the minutes of the meeting.



  • Reed Beaman (National Herbarium of New South Wales)
  • Barry Conn (National Herbarium of New South Wales)
  • Bill Barker (State Herbarium of South Australia)
  • Alex Chapman (Western Australian Herbarium)
  • Gary Chapple (National Herbarium of New South Wales)
  • Jim Croft (Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Capital Territory)
  • Nicholas Lander (Western Australian Herbarium)
  • Peter Neish – HISCOM co-ordinator (National Herbarium of Victoria)
  • Ben Richardson (Western Australian Herbarium)
  • Greg Whitbread (Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Capital Territory)

Invited guests

  • Alan Brooks (KE software)
  • Tim Entwisle (CHAH, National Herbarium of New South Wales)
  • Philip Gleeson (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service)
  • Jon Kelly (KE software)
  • Helen Thompson (Australian Biological Resources Study)
  • Aaron Wilton (Landcare Research, New Zealand)



Tim Entwisle (National Herbarium of New South Wales) welcomed participants and invited guests to HISCOM2001 workshop.

Discussion of Agenda

Peter Neish introduced the group to the general schedule of the meeting.

Report from CHAH/HISCOM meeting in Adelaide

Tim Entwisle and HISCOM members who were present gave a run down on the major points from the joint CHAH/HISCOM meeting in Adelaide . These points were discussed in further detail later in the meeting.

Links with other groups

National Weeds Strategy

Discussion took place around providing a technical solution to deliver weed information to a national system. A number of institutions already have a mechanism for providing this. It was felt that a system that involved re-entering of data via the web was a duplication of effort that was best avoided. However, a national weed alert system was seen as a desirable addition to the AVH that should be developed in the future.

Action 1

Contact John Thorpe to discuss suitability of "WeedAlert" model for web-delivery of weed information for the National Weed Strategy Barry Conn

Action 2

Supply "WeedAlert" model to HISCOM-L Gary Chapple


Discussion took place around the benefits to HISCOM and OZCAM if they were to develop their distributed system using the same software as the AVH. By working collaboratively OZCAM would not have to start from scratch, and any new features to the software would be made available to HISCOM. Ben Richardson talked about Sourceforge which is an on-line environment for software collaboration in open-source software.


To put source code to the AVH on the internet in the SourceForge environment.


HISCOM coordinator to offer the AVH source code to OZCAM Peter Neish – COMPLETED done during meeting.

During the meeting the OZCAM members joined HISCOM briefly to discuss this. OZCAM indicated they were going to recommend that the AVH software be used for their system and were grateful for the offer of the software. They indicated their willingness to work in a co-operative manner and share any new developments.


To set up an account on SourceForge for the AVH project. Ben Richardson – by the end of December

Other International herbarium database projects

Jim Croft raised the fact that we should include New Zealand in the project.Tim Entwisle made the point that the name of the AVH should stay the same for the duration of the five-year databasing project.


To give Landcare Research New Zealand the source code for the AVH software and to link their database to the AVH. This would be done via SourceForge.


Contact CHAH – Tim Entwisle???? What for? Was it to seek their approval for using SourceForge or for letting NZ have the avh code

What about Mark Jackson's approach from Kew and Walter Berendson ( Berlin )??


No members attended because HISCOM was far too interesting.


What it does and does not do and what we want it to do.

Clarification was provided to Alan Brooks and Jon Kelly (both from KE Software) as to the functionality required for the current version of the AVH mapper under the current contract. These included: a mechanism for querying multiple species, user selectable colours and shapes, a link to fact sheets for an exemplar group and to provide a specification for the gateway systems. Alan requested that HISCOM member provide comments on the current version of the data delivery component of the AVH by Friday 16 November.

Agreed 1

Precision levels only provided if one species mapped

Agreed 2

If more than one species diosplayed, then no precision levels provided

Agreed 3

10 symbols to be available

Agreed 4

AVH to have two levels of security (1) Maintenance and (2) Public

Agreed 5

Maintenance level access has full data download capability plus features of Public level

Agreed 6

Public level access has mapper and restricted locality information capability

Action 1

Provide feedback about the data delivery mechanism of the AVH to Alan Brooks and Jon Kelly. All HISCOM members – 16 November

Action 2

Configure AVH to a set number of caches (up to 10)Alan Brooks

Action 3

Sccess[1] to PERTH factsheet as a demonstration of capability to present Flora information PERTH & Alan Brooks

Next stage of the mapper – specifications, implementation and funding?

Discussion on what features we wanted to see in the AVH in the future took place, with Alan Brooks and Jon Kelly providing input on the implications. Some examples were:

  • Area searches
  • More detailed layers
  • Encryption
  • Fact sheet and image harvester
  • A National Consensus Census

Filtering of ‘sensitive’ information for public consumption

Tim Entwisle provided details of the fields that CHAH agreed should be provided to the public view of the AVH. These were:

Field R and T taxa Other taxa
Genus and species Y Y
Source of Record Y
Record number (sheet #) Y Y
Collector’s name(s) Y Y
Collector’s Identifier (number) Y Y
Descriptive locality of Collection Y[2] Y
Nearest names place Y Y
State Y Y
Country (? Australia ) Y Y
Geocode – dithered to 10 minutes Y Y
Geocode source Y Y
Geocode precision Y Y
Frequency N N
Habitat N N
Notes N N

At this time, it is best to release only ‘Nearest Named Place’ and not the descriptive locality for all taxa. It was noted that the nearest named place should be based on the 1:100,000 map series since this was the HISPID standard. However, 1:1,000,000 map series might be used by some institutions.

Jim Croft raised the need for a set of guidelines as to how data from other institutions can be used. HISCOM has prepared a draft set of guidelines for CHAH to consider (attachment 1 to be supplied by Jim Croft).


That CHAH issue guidelines for the use of data from other institutions based on the suggestions in attachment 1

On-line Flora – Database andspecifications / standards

The group discussed the need for a standard for putting floras into an electronic format. It was agreed that the CANB/ABRS Pteridophyte model be used as the basis for a new schema.


CANB to make available the schema for descriptive data used to format the Pteridophyte flora. Either posted to the list, or put on the SourceForge siteJim Croft – December


Schema design

Discussed the next version of HISPID, which will be in XML. KE Software to continue development of data delivery using the draft XML schema.


The next version of HISPID would be based on an XML schema and would be known as HISPID5 (ie. HISPID Version 5)


To finish off draft XML schema. All interested HISCOM members – end of November (some of this was completed on Wednesday)

Demonstration of Microscope search tool– Paddy Patterson

Paddy Patterson demonstrated his microscope search tool. HISCOM discussed the product and gave some feedback to Tim Entwisle for CHAH.

AVH Databasing

Mechanisms to allow sharing and use of duplicate specimen data

Barry Conn talked about the management of the AVH databasing project, which is being undertaken by NSW and some of the possibilities of providing reports on progress and co-ordinating the data entry of groups[3]

Tim Entwisle handed out a list of contacts for the project divided into IT and curatorial. This was subsequently emailed to each institution.

Integrated census of accepted names and synonymy (leading towards a consensus census)

Considerable discussion took place around the technical difficulties associated with building a distributed consensus census. In the first instance, Greg Whitbread volunteered to produce a comparative list of all names used in the states, so that conflicts could start to be identified.


All states with electronic census information to provide this to Greg Whitbread for compilation into a comparative list. All HISCOM members, Greg Whitbread – December

Phrase Names

Discussion took place around the problems associated with the inconsistent use of phrase names, and the problems this creates for combining electronic information and curation.


To put a recommendation to CHAH on this issue. Bill Barker to put together some words to express this and post to the HISCOM list for comment before co-ordinator sends recommendation to CHAH. Bill Barker, Barry Conn – January 2002

Data Validation

Importance of the combination of both reliable determinations and accurate / precise geocodes and general database consistency.

Jim Croft and Greg Whitbread talked about the problem of imprecise determinations. The possibility of writing an article to the ASBS newsletter on this topic was raised.


Not to map records on the AVH where the determination is uncertain.


Not to map records of hybrid origin.

Local validation at time of data entry to improve data quality

Batch validation

Outlier validation control[4] - see attachment


Paul Goia to be approached as to the possibility of using his outlier validation techniques for the AVH project. Reed Beaman – January 2002

Hiscom co-ordinator / AVH Project Co-ordinator

New HISCOM co-ordinator: Barry Conn

Next meeting

Barry Conn to approach Hobart about a meeting in 2002. An informal meeting in Canberra in conjunction with the GBIF meeting March might also be appropriate.


  1. Could this be "access"?
  2. After discussion it was agreed that without a distributed census it was very difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of which taxa each state considers rare or threatened in its own state. Therefore, other institutions can never be sure that they are not releasing detailed information on plants that are rare or threatened in another state.
  3. Did we decide anything about how we were going to implement this?
  4. Should read "protocol"