Last May on Lilac Sunday, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University introduced visitors and online audiences to two mobile applications for mapping and sharing information on the Arboretum’s living plant collections—Mobile Interactive Map (MIM) and Arboretum Navigator. Following a year of rigorous testing and evaluation, the Arboretum has combined the best attributes of both in a single application, Arboretum Explorer. Set for launch on May 12 as part of this year’s Lilac Sunday celebrations, Arboretum Explorer represents the latest advance in the Arboretum’s historical commitment to expanding access to its collections for science, learning, and recreation.
All of the more than 15,000 accessioned plants at the Arnold Arboretum are mapped, recorded, and tracked digitally with the help of a collections database, BG-BASE. Arboretum Explorer allows users to tap into this information by harnessing the GIS (geographic information system) capabilities of their mobile phones and tablets to locate and identify specific plants in the landscape. Arboretum Explorer also significantly enhances how visitors interact with plants they encounter in the collection, from taking self-guided tours to finding information on Tree Mobs and sharing plants on social media.
“As stewards of one of the world’s most important living collections of plants, our charge is to do everything we can to share information and insight into our extraordinary trees, shrubs, and vines,” said Director William (Ned) Friedman. “It’s a big part of what has made the Arboretum a hugely valuable resource to school children, the visiting public, and scientists from around the globe. We are committed to pushing the digital frontiers that connect people to our plants and promote greater interactions with biodiversity.”
Try out Arboretum Explorer on your mobile device this Lilac Sunday, at home, or on your next Arnold Arboretum visit. The Arboretum requests continued feedback from users to help identify new features and guide the engineering of future releases.