Title:Release Your Local Species into the iOS Ecosystem
Authors:Simon Sherrin
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

At the start of 2011, Australia's Museum Victoria, published a Field Guide for Victorian Animals for iOS devices: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app currently contains information for approximately 650 Victorian animal species, including birds, mammals, snakes, lizards and frogs, as well as butterflies, snails, spiders and other invertebrates.

Museum Victoria (MV) has released source code for the app under an open source license. This demo will show how any institution can use that code and their own data, images and audio to customize and publish a field guide for their local area on iOS devices.

For a number of years now, museums have been investigating and trialing how to deliver content using mobile devices. Over the past year, there has been an increasing number of applications released that support onsite tours, an extension into the mobile domain of traditional single-purpose audio tour guides. This work has been accompanied by the development of  standards and schemas to support tours, e.g. TourML. This type of tour application has often been developed by art galleries and museums and is useful within the walls of a museum. For natural history museums, mobile applications can also make the most of the wealth of its information that is valuable outside its four walls.

Traditionally published in book form, field guides contain information about animals or plants, including physical descriptions, biology, reproduction, ecology and distribution. They are usually rich with images, as images are the best method of identification. The MV field guide uses data written by MV's science curators, images and sounds exported from Museum Victoria's collection management system. Image and sound files sourced from Museum Victoria or external photographers and sound recordists.