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May 16, 2017
A comfy pair of shoes is key to an enjoyable walking tour. Now, a new "app" for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) U.S. National Arboretum will make doubly sure visitors to the vast facility can easily find the gardens and plants they want to see. Adorned by more than 3,000 species of landscape plants, the National Arboretum encompasses 446 bucolic acres nestled within Washington, D.C.
To help visitors navigate the vast acreage, which includes exhibits and collections connected by nine miles of paved roadway, National Arboretum staff created an "app"-a software application for mobile phones and other devices. The app is an outgrowth of the Arboretum Botanical Explorer (ABE), according to Scott Aker, a horticulturist who heads up the USDA Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Arboretum Gardens Unit.
Available on the National Arboretum website and in a kiosk at its Visitor Center, the ABE allows users to see the location of plants, when the plants were acquired, and where they came from. It also serves as an electronic register of the memorials and dedications—benches, trees and the like—that commemorate a person or event.
The ABE has provided a broader audience with greater access to the National Arboretum's collections, Aker noted. But with the improvements in hand-held devices, it became clear that moving ABE to mobile devices was the next logical development, he added.
Supported by both the iOS and Android platforms for mobile devices, the app complements existing signage and other ways of navigating the National Arboretum's many gardens and other features.
Tours, exhibits, events and gardens are programmed into the app to deliver to visitors in "real time" an idea of what they can see during their visit. The app also enables visitors to navigate the National Arboretum via a digital map. A search feature allows them to explore the collections and other features, learn about available visitor services, and locate a memorial bench or tree with ease.
Learn more about the app in the May 2017 issue of AgResearch.
For more information contact Sharon Durham, ARS Office of Communications.
The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.