Natural history collections and herbaria contain many millions of specimens that are used for research. When scientists publish their results they cite which specimens they used so that other scientists can both check the work and build on what has been achieved.
Institutions that hold specimens are publishing increasing amounts of data about (and images of) their specimens on-line. We need to have a way for scientists to reference specimens so that someone reading research results can simply click a link to see the supporting data and perhaps an image. To make this happen we need stable web links to the specimens that the holding institutions commit to maintain for the long term and that are implemented in a similar way across many institutions. Once this mechanism is widely adopted machines will be able to exploit the links to specimens to help do entirely new kinds of research.
This meeting was about establishing a consistent mechanism that will work across institutions.