The developed technical design is built on the output of a range of common projects, notably EDIT, SYNTHESYS, and Pro-iBiosphere, that shows that the planned techinical implementation is feasible. It was created in cooperation with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility GBIF. The TDWG global taxonomic standards group was also instrumental for drafting the Technical Design. It can generally be divided into two categories: The ICT infrastructure and the technology for digitisation.
The ICT infrastructure brings together three key functionalities:
- unified access to the collections: Any registered user should, depending on their access permissions, be able to access any specimen or specimen data regardless of the institution holding the specimen.
- the unified knowledge graph: Bring together rich digital information and assets from all participating institutions, with institutional Collection Management Systems and laboratory management systems remaining the persistent repository for these data.
- unified web services: Services facilitated by the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) to enable the unified knowledge graph including basic infrastructure, federation services, collaboration services and thematic community support services for data discovery, visualisation and to allow consumption of data from the unified knowledge graph.
Design studies and experimentation in various facilities on the massive and fast digitisation of 2D and 3D objects revealed that with adequate investments it would be possible to take major steps towards digitisation workflows at industrial scale. These workflows would also include processing (external and internal tissue) morphologies, sound, nucleotide sequences, traits, etc. Robotics for handling and image capture of collection specimens shows to be a valuable technology.
The general objective in the Technical Design for massive digitisation of scientific natural science collections is to develop and support the technological innovations required to efficiently digitise 1.5 billion specimens with different information categories in a foreseeable time. Currently, there are no massive digitisation programmes in most countries. There is a lack of funding, staff skills, imaging hardware, and suitable ICT systems. The existence of a large research infrastructure tackling massive and fast digitisation could change this.