AMplify: Episode 14, Paul Flemons

By: Alice Gage, Category: At The Museum, Date: 13 Jul 2016

The AM's Digital Collections and Citizen Science manager speaks about the world-leading digitisation project, DigiVol.

Paul Flemons, Manager, Digital Collections and Citizen Science

Paul Flemons, Manager, Digital Collections and Citizen Science
Photographer:  © Paul Flemons

It was the combination of science and creativity in him, says Paul Flemons, that led to devising new platforms in biodiversity informatics: the recorded data about the breath and width of animal and plant life.

Add in the need for digital access to a centuries-old museum collection and some generous volunteers, and you get DigiVol.

"With museum collections that are hundreds of years old, we are now able to make them available to not just the local people who can get into the museum but people all around the world who do research on particular taxonomic groups and animal groups."

"Five years ago, it was very difficult to find funding to do digitisation of our collections. And I came up with the idea in conjunction with a couple of other people here at the Museum to engage volunteers, because volunteers have always been very actively involved in museums.

"So we created a special lab called the DigiVol lab. We have 70 volunteers come in each week to the museum to take photos of objects. We then have the online component, where once objects have been photographed on site we upload those images to the web and we have people from all around the world transcribe those hand-written labels.

"DigiVol is recognised one of the leading projects in the world. The Smithsonian in America has taken on the same model for transcribing their collections. We have seven countries and 22 organisations involved in DigiVol now."

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