Global Consultation on Converging Digital and Extended Specimens

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.

Beginning on February 16, 2021, a global consultation will seek 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.  

Topics of the consultation will 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 
  • Analysing/mining specimen data for novel applications 

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), BCoN, DiSCCo, iDigBio, and Atlas of Living Australia, among others, invite you to register for one of the two virtual opening sessions that will be held on February 16 by following the links below and then to become involved in the Discourse consultation discussion process. 

Session 1 6:00 UTC
Session 2 15:00 UTC

The GBIF community forum landing page for the consultation is also now live. This page will hold guidance on the consultation process with links to the discussion threads.  Please see links on the landing page to more background documents. If you are a new user of the GBIF community forum you will need to register.  

You are also invited to review the draft consultation outline and to sign the Letter of Intent.

The organizers are excited by the large attendance at recent related events and expect a thoughtful and robust consultation.