Brook Hall Estate
The Brook Hall Estate is a 140-acre 18th century demesne on the banks of the River Foyle, 5km from the city of Derry/Londonderry in the northwest of Ireland. Brook Hall has been owned and maintained by six generations of the Gilliland family since 1858, who have tended and developed the garden and arboretum into one of the finest private collections on the island of Ireland. The rich, brown earth, medium loam, and mild microclimate of the area make excellent conditions for growing big trees quickly.
The company wanted to develop an interactive map system to share information with visitors on over 1000 of the plants and trees within the the arboretum without the need for physical labels on every tree.
To assist with the development of their concept, Brook Hall Estate made contact with North West Regional College (NWRC) Business Support Centre (BSC) who supported them through the InnovateUs programme which is funded by the Department for the Economy.
NWRC Electronics & ICT Technical Consultant, Cathal Ferry, provided 60 hours of upskilling support in programming ASP.net, C#, Java and HTML, database design & development, design & development of hosted pages, migration skills to allow the system to be moved from a test environment to production environment and user guide writing.
On completion of the project, the company has developed a web based interactive map that allows visitors to discover more about the unique and diverse collection of trees and plants in front of them in the arboretum. Users are able to access the map using an internet enabled tablet or smart phone to search plants and trees based on various criteria. The results are then displayed on the interactive map and using geolocation, users can then navigate to the selected plants and trees. In addition to this, staff at Brook Hall Estate have an admin panel allowing them to set passwords and create users, as well as upload tree/plant data and images of trees/plants.
David Gilliland, Managing Partner at Brook Hall Estate, described the benefits of working with NWRC’s Business Support Centre via the InnovateUs programme: ‘’This project has been invaluable in bringing our initial ideas on how to improve visitor interaction with our garden into reality. The project has helped us navigate the possibilities of software development and hosting to provide us with a useful proof-of-concept system that we can further develop and add additional features to. Without the support of the InnovateUs project and the NWRC we would have been unable to get our proof-of-concept to this stage.’’