From Archaeology to Ecology, Oral History and Citizen Science
Leaping across disciplinary boundaries, FAIMS, the Federated Archaeological Information Management System funded by Nectar, has found that its tools and services designed for archaeologists are also of value in ecology, oral history and any groups needing tools for field work. Released two years ago to support archaeologists with their field work, today FAIMS is the most widely used purpose-built field recording software in archaeology, supporting 15 major research projects (seven ARC funded) with approximately 300 users logging 14,000 hours. FAIMS is now rapidly expanding into other disciplines; 15 new archaeology, ecology and oral history projects are scheduled for 2016.
FAIMS discovered that the challenges encountered by field researchers in other disciplines (including geosciences, ecology, biology, and oral history) are similar to those faced by archaeologists and that the data collection system (‘FAIMS Mobile’) they designed is generalised enough that it works for researchers in those disciplines. Dr Shawn Ross, Director of FAIMS, noted, “We continue to be struck by the versatility of our initial design, and the similarities of field data collection across many disciplines.” A CSIRO deployment, for example, allowed recording of metadata for soil, water, plant, and rock samples, as well as data from field measurements of, e.g., aqueous geochemistry.
This year FAIMS is collaborating with the State Library of NSW on three oral history projects to capture, and with the help of Alveo, the Human Communication Science Virtual Laboratory, process oral history datasets. Collaboration with Streamwatch at the Australian Museum moves the FAIMS tools into the domain of environmental monitoring, and also citizen science.
“Future collaboration will extend our new, multidisciplinary focus to online data processing, analysis, and visualisation,” said Dr. Shawn Ross, and in recognition of their expansion beyond archaeology, FAIMS now unpacks their acronym as ‘Field Acquired Information Management Systems’.
For more information about FAIMS, go to www.fedarch.org