HISCOM 2005 Teleconference 1

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2005 HISCOM Teleconference 1 was held by phone on Tuesday 3 May 2005. This document represents the minutes of the meeting.

Attendance and Apologies

  • Bill Barker (Department of Environment and Heritage, South Australia)
  • Peter Bostock (Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland)
  • Alex Chapman (Minute taker; Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia)
  • Gary Chapple (Royal Botanic Gardens, New South Wales)
  • Barry Conn (Royal Botanic Gardens, New South Wales)
  • Jim Croft (Centre of Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Capital Territory)
  • Dale Dixon (proxy for Ian Cowie and Peter Krause; Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Northern Territory)
  • Peter Neish (Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria)
  • Ben Richardson (Chair; Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia)
  • Greg Whitbread (Centre of Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Capital Territory)

Minutes of Previous Meeting

A request was made that the Minutes of the previous meeting be updated to include the text of the actions and recommendations from the 2003 Minutes, particularly so the context of an action is more readily understood.

T1 Action 1

Amend the 2004 Minutes as requested. [Ben Richardson, completed]

Business Arising from Previous Minutes

2003 Action 2

Ask Barry Conn if the HISCOM web site should be moved to a server to enable collaborative management (e.g. SourceForge). [Greg Whitbread, Ben Richardson]


  • We should review options other than a Content Management System (CMS), (e.g. TRACT, perhaps being adopted by TDWG) which combine components of a Wiki with those of an issue reporting system such as Mantis.

T1 Action 2

Report on the suitability of TRACT at next teleconference. [Greg Whitbread]

2004 Action 1

That CANB expedite the provision of online access for modifying APNI and the developments approved in the [Consensus Census] recommendations [1–3]. [Greg Whitbread]

Discussion: In hand.

2004 Action 2

That MEL/CANB develop an interim protocol that can be extended to other herbaria for transferring and updating state census data to APNI as a taxonomic view. [Peter Neish, report by this teleconference]


  • CENSAPP already happening.
  • For automated delivery of census data, a data delivery format is required. It would be useful for HISCOM members to post information on the structure and field list of their institutional census database to the HISCOM Mailing List for further discussion in this area. [AC]

T1 Action 3

A representative of each institution should post the requested information to the Mailing List by the next teleconference. [All]

2004 Action 3

HISCOM to teleconference 4 times per year, a number of weeks prior to the CHAH teleconference to allow answers to filter to the CHAH teleconference. [All]


  • Should begin: “HISCOM to meet 4 times per year, 3 of which are teleconference meetings timed to occur...” [BR]
  • Commenced.

2004 Action 4

For the set of CHAH-endorsed AVH fields in the first instance, determine the level to which atomisation of these fields will be necessary to ensure clean data provision to the AVH process. [Barry Conn]


  • Quoting from the AVH MoU document, point 7 under “The parties agree as follows”: “... To meet general needs, data available to all users from the combined map will be the scientific name, herbarium source, record number, collector’s name(s) and number, collection date, at least generalised locality information, State, country, approximated geocode, geocode source and precision. More detailed information will be available from custodians, targeted to the nature of the specific inquiry.”
  • The wording of this, particularly for ‘generalised locality information’ and ‘approximated geocode’ provoked some lengthy discussion. The former was taken to mean “nearest named place” along with geocode data that is generalised to the nearest 10 minutes. The other fields in the list were not considered problematic.
  • NSW and CANB cannot provide nearest named place, only generalised geocode data. It was noted that there was no point approximating the geocode if the full locality statement was also provided.
  • Discussion also of full data availability via GBIF nodes but not AVH.
  • GBIF stipulates that records provided via its gateways should be full records, and not be generalised. [GW]

T1 Action 4

Discuss the difference between AVH MoU agreement and GBIF agreement on data provision with CHAH member, as a resolution on this is needed at the next CHAH teleconference. [All]

2004 Action 5

Attempt to parse BRI's Full Label Text field to enable separation of locality data from the other data (i.e. habitat, habit, frequency). This process along with Action 1 should inform the Data Cleaning module of the AVH Web Enhancement project. [Ben Richardson, by this teleconference]


  • Use of statistical methodology proved more difficult than expected; required access to reasonable “dictionary” of trusted data so that sorting of sentences in BRI’s Full Label Text could occur. Attaining 100% accuracy requires user intervention, which is not ideal for a large dataset such as this. [BR]
  • Effort in Perl by GC resulted in up to 85% accuracy.

T1 Action 5

Place code in MEL CVS and discuss findings on the HISCOM Mailing List. [Gary Chapple, Ben Richardson, by next teleconference]

T1 Action 6

Send the “best effort” results in a data file to BRI via PB, including the records that were unable to be separated. Use any format that includes Acquision Number and the data field. [Ben Richardson, Gary Chapple, by next teleconference]

2004 Action 6

Place Rex Croft's HISPID Parsing software on the MEL CVS repository. [Peter Neish]


  • Completed.
  • For further information, visit MEL’s CVS server at: http://cvs.rbg.vic.gov.au/. Username and password are not reprinted to avoid security issues.

2004 Action 7

Document proposed changes to existing EWS Technical Design draft with a view to simplifying the solution. This should enable the project to be completed within the time frame and funding. [Greg Whitbread]

Discussion: Action no longer required, due to continued development of EWS to current design.

2004 Action 8

That the list server problem(s) be resolved by the first HISCOM teleconference. If it is not fixed by then, consideration of other options will be made. [Greg Whitbread]


  • NSW members are still having trouble with delivery. HISCOM list members from TAS, NZ did not reply to the test email sent via the list, so the problem may not be limited to NSW. [BR]

T1 Action 7

HISCOM members experiencing delivery problems from the HISCOM Mailing List should have their institution’s mail server IT staff contact GW. [Any HISCOM member]

2004 Action 9

Find out if others can get editing access to the HISCOM web site on PlantNET.


  • Issue arises due to placement of HISCOM site on NSW’s PlantNET server.
  • Preferred corrective action is for this to be properly recognised as a task for the HISCOM Convenor, who must keep the HISCOM site up-to-date.
  • 1998 Canberra HISCOM Minutes still unavailable [BC]
  • Recommended format for HISCOM web site material is HTML, including for Minutes and other formal HISCOM documents.

T1 Agreement 1

That the maintenance of the HISCOM web site be recognised as a task for the HISCOM Coordinator.

T1 Agreement 2

That all content to be presented in the HISCOM web site be delivered to BC in HTML format, including formal HISCOM documents such as this. The intention of this is to make it simple for NSW to update the site.

T1 Action 8

Get the 2003 Annual Meeting Minutes to BC for addition to HISCOM web site. [Ben Richardson, completed]

2004 Action 10

HISCOM resolved to have the Summary and the CSIRO Software Licence Agreement documents tabled at CHAH. [Ben Richardson]

Discussion: completed.

2004 Action 11

All HISCOM members to show their CHAH head and interested staff the draft version of APNI’s XML output to web pages. The context is that we are trying to sell APNI as a tool for building state censuses. [All]


  • Not considered urgent, but probably useful in the context of the upcoming Consensus Census Committee meeting in June.
  • To be completed.

Consensus Census

  • CANB is slowly modifying APNI to make it ready for the Consensus Census.
  • EPBC Act taxa are being sorted out first.
  • Working Group being convened shortly (early June).
  • Needs to be sustainable once Tony Orchard’s contract is completed.
  • Tony Orchard is now distributing lists of conservation taxa for vetting to nominated Consensus Census committee members. Committee to convene in Canberra in June to plan out procedures.
  • Clarification will be required as to how the process works after Orchard's term expires. HISCOM input will be required here.

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium

  • Developer has been changed to The South Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (SAPAC) at Adelaide University, project managed by Paul Coddington. Paul implemented the draft VAH as well as AD’s Electronic Flora of South Australia (URL: http://www.flora.sa.gov.au). SAPAC will develop EWS Stage 2 and New AVH Stage 3. Estimated delivery date is July/August.
  • The potential for Computer Science students to become involved is considered a plus.
  • BioCASe Providers are running at AD (Internet), MEL (internally) and PERTH (internally). DiGIR Providers are running at CANB and NSW.
  • Example Java portal available on BioCASe site (URL: http://www.biocase.org/).
  • Tapir protocol coming in next BioCASe release.
  • Code compatibility between the SA IT Services EWS Stage 1 effort and the effort at SAPAC was flagged as a potential problem.

T1 Action 9

BioCASe Provider software must be up and running at each institution by the delivery date of the AVH Stage 3. As many as possible should be running by next teleconference so that these can be used as test sites. [All]

T1 Action 10

Post report and specification documents to HISCOM web site. [Bill Barker]

Testing the link to Brisbane AVH web server

  • BRI’s Provider is ready for testing.

T1 Action 11

Send email to HISCOM Mailing List noting URL of the new BRI AVH provider so that other nodes can be configured to use it and direct feedback to the list. [Peter Bostock]

Type Photo Index

  • NSW have reworked the database to fix various bugs/inadequacies.

T1 Action 12

Test querying of reworked interface and direct feedback to the mailing list. [All]

T1 Action 13

Test loading and editing interface and direct feedback to NSW and the list. [Peter Bostock]

TDWG Attendance

  • The number of working groups, and the gradual increase of simultaneous meetings at TDWG make it difficult for one attendee to be involved in all discussions.
  • GW is apparently the only HISCOM member intending to go, and his attendance is contingent on availability of funding.

T1 Action 14

HISCOM members to inform those attending of their interest in particular topics. [All]

Next Meeting

  • Teleconference: Wednesday 13 July 2005 (tentative; 1 week prior to CHAH teleconference).
  • Annual Meeting: 18–20 October 2005 in Alice Springs.