Some troubling news that we missed back in December1:
A recent assessment of the Seed Information Database (SID) for compliance with UK legislation on website accessibility (Public Sector Bodies [Websites and Mobile Applications] Accessibility Regulations 2018; themselves aligned with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 at the AA standard) found the web interface deficient in several respects. Regrettably, due to RBG Kew’s need to prioritise its limited resources, we will be unable to remedy the faults; and the SID web interface will be taken down at the end of this financial year (March 2022).
Now, SID is absolutely essential to the work of genebanks (among many others), so lack of access to it, even for a short period as Kew figures out what to do, would be a Very Bad Thing.
SID is a compilation of seed biological trait data from the MSBP’s own collections and from other published and unpublished sources. Its primary purpose is as an internal source of a variety of seed biological information; for use in large scale analysis and decision support for seed conservation operations.
In an effort to try to prevent any suspension in access, the International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR) has a short survey out. Please consider filling it out and adding your voice to those of many seed scientists, genebank curators and restoration practitioners around the world who don’t want SID to go.
- Thanks to Dr Fiona Hay for alerting us to this. [↩]
5 Replies to “Save SID!”
The Kew SID was an essential resource in our review of domestication of the first cereals. SID shows – contrary to what is often taught – that existing large seed in a low percentage (less that 1%) of wild grasses was a key factor as to just what would become domesticated. Even in some cases the seed in the wild relative was larger than in the subsequent domesticate.
SID is absolutely essential for “seed people”. It saves resources by not having to re-invent the wheel or spending hours searching for often way too expensive literature. Kew needs to get their priorities right and not take on all these new initiatives at the expense of those in which millions have already been invested and need only some maintenance or updating. The SEPASAL database is another such case. On the other hand they seem to be involved in a lot of duplication – Plants of the World Online, World Checklist, IPNI and others. Discontinuing SID is equivalent to throwing out some of their herbarium specimens or seed collections because they are unable to maintain them. Would they do that?
If the ending of SID website is going ahead then I might have the experience and resources to download (scrape data from it) and recreate putting back online as a private website so not subject to “(Public Sector Bodies [Websites and Mobile Applications] Accessibility Regulations 2018”. Could this be worth doing? Please contact me if this would be of interest.
I am curious what aspect of “(Public Sector Bodies [Websites and Mobile Applications] Accessibility Regulations 2018” the existing website has failed on?
Not having access to the SID is already quite a challenge for my company as we specialize in unusual culinary and medicinal herbs. I note that since at least the third week in March the database is no longer returning any results despite assurances on the portal page that the database will continue to operate until April 30. Also, “Important notice regarding the Seed Information Database” (https://seedscisoc.org/important-notice-regarding-the-seed-information-database/) indicates that it is possible to download the database from Kew’s FTP site. I looked at the site but I could not find the database. Finally, I note that whoever is running the comment section at the bottom of the page has not approved or posted any of my comments.