With the submission of the DiSSCo proposal now under way for inclusion on the ESFRI Roadmap 2018, we are pleased to announce that the affiliated ICEDIG proposal has now been positively evaluated under the Horizon 2020 framework. The associated consortium consists of 12 partners – seven of which are CETAF members – and include both public and private organisations from 7 countries.
The proposal, which envisions the ‘Innovation and Consolidation for large-scale Digitisation of natural heritage’ in support of the further design of DiSSCo, scored an excellent mark of 14.5/15, ranking it first place among 39 competing submissions. The approval of this project amounts to a grant of €3 million from the European Commission. Coordinated by the University of Helsinki, the ICEDIG project will run for a period of 27 months starting in January 2018 and completing in March 2020. The aim of this initiative is to facilitate the preparatory phase of DiSSCo as the Horizon 2020 call specifically targeted design studies for new research infrastructures. This will provide DiSSCo with the necessary means and resources to address the technical, financial, policy and governance challenges that lie ahead. The DiSSCo coordination team, who also participates in the project management, along with project coordinator Leif Schulman and the leaders of the 9 work packages, will ensure that ICEDIG is closely and continuously aligned with the needs and developments of DiSSCo.
Public Abstract: Modern science requires digital access to data. European collections account for 55% of the natural sciences collections globally, holding more than 1 billion objects, which represent 80% of the world’s bio- and geo-diversity. Only around 10% of these have been digitally catalogued and 1-2% imaged, rendering their information underused. The sheer scale and complexity of digitising and providing access to this information requires technological, socio-cultural, and organisational capacity enhancements across the continent. This challenge is being tackled by the new ESFRI initiative Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo). DiSSCo will unify access to collection data in a harmonised and integrated manner across Europe. It will enable critical new insights from integrated digital data to address some of the world's greatest challenges, such as biodiversity loss and impacts of climate change. However, new research and technological innovation will be required to solve the challenges of efficiently digitising and seamlessly accessing the collections. Building on previous project outputs, community and industrial expertise, the ICEDIG project will design all the technical, financial, policy and governance aspects for developing and operating DiSSCo. A consolidation stream will develop a shared governance model to support all aspects of service unification such as implementation of the open access principles, incentive schemes, planning and prioritisation, capacity development, etc. A technology stream will focus on the innovations that will be required to digitise a significant part of major collections in a foreseeable time, at acceptable cost, and to manage petabyte-size data. The work will be carried out in wide consultation with the larger community. The outputs will be prototypes, blueprints, novel workflows, new industry partnerships, and citizen involvement models, paving the way for the successful construction of the DiSSCo research infrastructure.