Opening Up the Natural History Heritage for Europeana (OpenUp!)
The scientists, particularly those associated with natural history museums and botanical gardens collectively hold large number of multimedia data like pictures, sounds, movies about specimens in his collections. This multimedia content is held in different kinds of databases and therefore is only currently available to those few people who can gain direct access to the databases. The attractive multimedia is thus effectively withheld from use for a wide range of scientific applications, which includes research, education, taxonomic study, biodiversity conservation, protected area management, and maintenance of diverse ecosystem services.
Therefore a project which would provide this multimedia content with specific biological and multilingual functionality to a wide European cultural audience through EUROPEANA was proposed. The inclusion of culturally-significant multimedia content from European natural history collections (i.e., more than 1 million pictures, artwork, movies, and audio files) will enhance the scientific dimension of EUROPEANA by adding substantial information about the natural world complementing the digital biodiversity literature, and in addition to the existing material primarily from the arts and humanities. The users of EUROPEANA will have direct online access to famous examples of natural and cultural heritage information that is kept in far-flung institutions preserving Europe’s natural history and that would be arduous to visit in person. Also, and due to the history of Europe and its colonial past, a lot of this multimedia information is of high interest to countries outside of Europe and it will play an important role in the repatriation of information on items kept in European repositories to their countries of origin. Accordingly, this project addresses end-users worldwide and will make them familiar with EUROPEANA and its objectives. Different user communities, including those in research for example from the fields of biology in general and specifically biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management (agriculture, fish-farming, forestry, horticulture, disease control) as well as potential users in, e.g., education, taxonomic study, eco-tourism, or from pharmaceutical and drug companies will have access to information via EUROPEANA and this will greatly facilitate their work in their respective field of expertise. The presented information also has an overall educational role and makes the general users of EUROPEANA aware of important challenges like climate change or loss of biodiversity. The second objective of the OpenUp! project is to present to general public the role and the work carried out in natural history institutions beyond what is exposed in exhibition rooms.
The result of this project and the procedures set in place to make natural history data accessible can serve as proof of concept of the networking and distributed access mechanisms used for EUROPEANA content provision. This experience can be extended to other content provider communities with a similar high degree of distribution.
A consortium leading by Freie Universitaet Berlin was established to work together on the proposed aims under the EU project OpenUp!. The members of consortium are 23 scientific institutions from 12 different European countries: Natural History Museum (London), Museum Fur Naturkunde, Institut fur Evolutionsund Biodiversitatsforschung an der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin (Leibniz), Botanicky Ustav Slovenskej Akademie Vied (Bratislava), Naturhistorisches Museum (Wien), Musee Royal De L'afrique Centrale (Tervuren), Narodni Muzeum (Praha), Stichting Expertisecentrum Voor Taxonomische Identificaties (Amsterdam), Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig (Bonn), Institut Royal Des Sciences Naturelles De Belgique (Bruxelles), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (Copenhagen), Københavns Universitet (København), Royal Botanic Garden (Edinburgh), Ait Angewandte Informationstechnik Forschungsgesellschaft Mbh (Graz), Helsingin Yliopisto (Helsingin), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Richmond), Stichting Nederlands Centrum Voor Biodiversiteit Naturalis (Leiden), Nationale Plantentuin Van Belgie (Meise), Museum National D'histoire Naturelle (Paris), Tartu Ulikool (Tartu), Species 2000 (Reading), Society for the Management of Electronic Biodiversity Data Limited (Dublin) and Land Oberösterreich (Linz).
OpenUp! project is a Best Practice Network, co-funded by the European Commission under the eContentplus programme, as part of the i2011 policy. Therefore, the interoperability of existing repositories and the implementation of technological solutions for uploading, search and long-term sustainability of the digitized multimedia objects is one of the goals of the project. We hope, that the ability of the multimedia through a global portal Europeana to everyone improves the interoperability of European taxonomy and the multilingual access point together with robust searching engine allows wide range of users exploit these data.
The pictures are the examples of the objects which would be provided to Europeana by Open Up!.