2018 and beyond: The digital revolution
At its core, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is, and always will be, a scientific institution. As the oldest scientific institution in Australia, and one of the most important botanical institutions in the world, it has a responsibility to ensure the future of the plants and this planet.
The Gardens are in fact, a ‘living labs’. Not just as a place of stunning horticultural displays in spectacular locations, but a place where world-leading plant scientists are embracing some of the most critical challenges facing humanity today. Plant sciences are a vital science, as without our plants we would have no food, no wine, no future.
The Gardens are focusing on encouraging the younger generation to reconnect, engage and interact with nature. As part of a digitizing world, the Gardens turned its eye to technology and encouraged visitors from all around the world to connect to the Gardens through new interactive smartphone apps, allowing them to learn more about the Garden through a series of online tours and augmented reality experiences.
In 2018, the ground-breaking technology of Connected Garden
saw free Wi-Fi installed throughout the Garden and Domain. This meant that visitors could to stay up-to-date with Garden staff, research, collections, stories, history and heritage no matter how near or far. The Gardens have become a new kind of office-space, with city workers opting to enjoy the outdoor space when having their meetings. As the world began to digitize, the Garden adapted along with it.
To continue along the theme of public engagement, in July 2018, the Botanic Gardens will launch Garden Explorer: an extensive online database of all the plants across all the botanic gardens. The new technology will use GPS to map out the plant life and provide visitors with guided routes through the Gardens to find the plants they are interested in. Pre-set routes will also be available, which will tell the story of the most interesting and iconic plants and allow the visitors to engage with the Garden in a whole new way.
Over the next five years, the Gardens will be undertaking one of the largest and most significant projects for plant sciences of this decade. It was announced in June 2018 that $60 million will be invested
into creating one of the most cutting-edge and advanced herbariums in the world at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan and developing the Brown building at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. The Centre of Innovation in Plant Science will be an ongoing project, which aspires to make Australia the global leader in plant sciences and safeguarding our future. The national herbarium of NSW
, currently held in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, will then be moved to the new location in 2022.