Scientific Communication Infrastructure

Scientific Communication Infrastructure is a joint venture featuring three partners from different institutions and scientific domains:
The Digital Humanities Research Group of the Department of Computer Science at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), the Department of Museum Informatics at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (GNM) in Nuremberg and the Biodiversity Informatics Group at the Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) in Bonn. The first phase of the project was funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) from 2009 to 2012.

During this project phase we developed a software system that enables scientific projects especially in memory institutions (museums, archives, libraries) to collect, store, manage and communicate knowledge. Therefore it addresses many facets of research in a network environment like persistence of information, long-time preservation and accessibility, digital documentation standards and e-publishing. The open source content management framework Drupal was extended with facilities to handle and process ontology based knowledge. Overall the system serves as a communication platform for curated knowledge.

The second project phase, also funded by the DFG, started in 2014. The goals of the second phase derive from research questions emerged from the first project phase and research community feedback and cover the three following issues:

1) Update and further development of the WissKI software

The current version of the WissKI software, based on a multitude of software components and third party technologies, will be updated. The maintenance and extensions of the system always conform to users’ needs and aim to increase user acceptance. Furthermore, the extension of import and export interfaces enables future application of the system for extended user groups and in different contexts. In a nutshell, WissKI will be expanded into a provider for Linked Data in accordance with the current terms and WissKI’s semantic concept will be extended to image, video and audio files.

2) Exchange of information in everyday work with semantic technologies

Based on insights gained from the project a one point contact in the domain of semantic technologies will be developed for the digital cultural heritage. Scholars will receive help, consulting service and training in dealing with standards regarding the semantics of data, particularly with the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM, ISO 21127). Within the scope of the second project phase a portal for the academic community will be established. Moreover, important topics will be discussed in appropriate fora and mailing lists and the results will be published in the form of guidelines. A large part of the planned concept of continuation is achieving a critical mass of users and application areas which will enable further development and support of the WissKI system in the medium term independent of public sponsorship.

3) Support of the scientific cognitive process with semantic data processing

In order to extend the existing retrieval mechanisms, we will develop semantic analysis tools to support answering scientific questions regarding complex issues by means of user-friendly query patterns. Furthermore, new visualisation methods like time bars, maps or graphs enable users to recognize new relations between data. In addition, the use of inference mechanisms extends enquiry possibilities to knowledge implicitly included in the data and facilitates data quality assurance via consistency checks.

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