The DiSSCo RI aims to build one single European Natural Science Collection that digitally unifies all European natural science assets under common access, curation, policies and practices. DiSSCo is committed to do this while ensuring that all the data is easily Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (i.e. following the FAIR principles).
Why is the project is necessary?
There are several European RIs that work with geo and bio-diversity information. The effectiveness of their results however, depends on the quality and availability of primary reference data that today is scattered and incomplete. DiSSCo will bring together an impressive number of European Natural History Collections through a shared approach to manage natural history collections and an unprecedented boost to the development of virtual collections. This way, DiSSCo will be able to mobilise, harmonise and make available scientific data at massive scale, therefore filling a significant gap in the value chain of European RIs.
What kind of innovations will the project bring to the field?
DiSSCo aims to transform today’s landscape of NHCs, and do it in three important ways:
- Firstly, by scaling up digitisation of NHCs (museums, herbariums, etc.) across Europe to an industrial scale.
- Secondly, by bringing together all the scattered data from individual European NHCs into a single European-wide knowledge base of unprecedented scale that links all data classes across European institutions. This will be possible thanks to the concept of FAIR Digital Specimen (a particular type of FAIR Digital Object). Digital Specimens allow to link a single (digitized) specimen to an impressive amount of data related to it that may come from other sources (taxonomic data, genomic data, ecological data, etc.) in other locations.
- Thirdly, by creating a single digital access point to all this data that includes a catalogue of digital services that will use machine-actionable mechanisms to improve how that data is accessed, analysed and interpreted. Much of the earlier developments of these mechanisms were carried out by one of the DiSSCo-linked projects: SYNTHESYS (which ends operations in 2023).