EDINA Annual Review 2010-2011

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3. Service and Project Reports

‘Our mission is to enhance productivity, quality and cost-effectiveness in research and education, with over twenty-five years of experience and technical expertise in data and online services.’

Our main business areas in 2010-2011 were:

  • Reading & Reference, with focuses on scholarly communication, continuity of access and text
  • Maps & Data, especially geospatial
  • Multimedia & Education, including a focus on learning and teaching (L&T)
  • Middleware & Infrastructure, with focuses on access management, interoperability and registries

This online service delivery is supported in three ways:

  1. We support end users and librarians and information services in various ways.
  2. We ensure a high level of usability, accessibility and reliability, complying with standards and meeting agreed performance indicators.
  3. We use our expertise and competence in project activity to advance development and understanding, on behalf of JISC and the wider education and research community.

Most service and R&D activities undertaken in 2010-2011 were funded by JISC. As shown below, a number of project activities undertaken relate to service activities.

Reading and Reference

Scholarly Communication Services and Related Projects

SUNCAT Related Projects

SUNCAT is the national union catalogue for serials providing facilities to discover and locate serials held across the UK.

A highly significant addition to the list of Contributing Libraries was Trinity College Dublin (TCD). TCD, although located in the Republic of Ireland, is a legal deposit library for both the UK and Ireland and is the largest research library in Ireland. It has contributed 180,000 serial records containing a number of titles not held by any other SUNCAT library. Another major library added was the Open University, which has contributed about 35,000 serials’ records.

The downloading service was considerably enhanced during the year by making available records from 17 Contributing Libraries, including all the UK legal deposit libraries, other major research libraries in the UK, as well as a selection of specialist libraries.

Work has been taking place on the platform used by SUNCAT, including the development of a new user interface, separate from the database that is at the heart of the service, and which will allow improvements to be implemented rapidly. The new interface will be introduced in Winter 2011.

A SUNCAT Google Application was launched this year allowing users to search SUNCAT from their iGoogle page. This complements the existing SUNCAT Facebook application.

The decision was taken to extend the coverage of Tables of Content (TOC) of journals in SUNCAT. A joint project was agreed with Heriot Watt University, which hosts the JournalTOCs service. This provides a TOC service for over 16,000 journals from 868 publishers and thereby extends the journal coverage currently provided by the Zetoc service. It is planned to have this functionality available in Autumn 2011.

The vision articulated by UK Discovery has emphasised the importance of metadata being open, reliable, sustainable and suitable for reuse. The scale, nature and comprehensiveness of the SUNCAT metadata, covering as it does the serials’ records of many major research libraries in the UK and Ireland, means that it is a priceless resource and potentially of great value for reuse.

Work has been carried out in the SUNCAT: exploring open metadata project to explore the issues of making the data open, both a technical and legal challenge. Many of the records provided to SUNCAT have not been provided by the staff in the Contributing Libraries, but rather acquired from third parties who can and do claim some degree of ownership over the records. Accordingly it has been necessary to ask the librarians to sign Agreements with EDINA for the release of their data. It is planned to implement an API to allow access to the data. The first outcomes of this work will be made available in Autumn 2011.

OpenDepot.org Related Projects

The OpenDepot.org service continues to support researchers worldwide who wish to make their work available on an Open Access basis. They do so readily, either by being re-directed to their institutional repository or by direct deposit into OpenDepot. The latter is especially valuable for authors who do not have access to local repository services.

The Depot was originally commissioned by JISC to support its RepositoryNet Initiative with the objective of ensuring that there was a national open access repository during the interim period while all universities set up their own institutional repository. That project funding ended but consultations within the open access movement indicated that there was a comparable need on a global stage.

The JISC-funded Open Access Repository Junction (OA-RJ) project has successfully completed phase one of its activities, producing two main deliverables: the Repository Junction discovery tool and a proof-of-concept broker services.

The Repository Junction discovery tool comprises a database with over 13,000 institutions, 2000 repositories and network ranges, which when queried allows institutions or authors to be matched to appropriate repositories. The data can be accessed by third party developers through a suite of APIs and is also available as four star linked data.

The SONEX group is supported by JISC to foster international collaboration and guide development. Its focus is on deposit opportunities and interoperability between and across repositories: scholarly output notification and exchange. It has defined a set of use case actors and is promoting investigation of use case scenarios by projects internationally. The director of EDINA is one of the four members of SONEX.

We first started to serve libraries and their patrons with SALSER, the serials catalogue for Scottish academic and research libraries, the year before being designated as a UK national academic data centre. SALSER’s scope is limited to Scotland but includes a diverse range of libraries and is well used. During 2010-2011 the frequency of updates from libraries continued to improve. This included the Moredun Research Institute, the Scottish Law Commission, Historic Scotland, and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service all updating their records during the year.

Other services continue to be reviewed in the light of changes in the market. Land Life Leisure is a weekly updated digest of press releases, reports and articles in the field of rural information. During 2010-2011 it has continued to be supported through community-based indexing with contributions from Coleg Sir Gâr and Harper Adams, Pershore, Myerscough, Biston and the Royal Agricultural Colleges, with just under 30 subscriptions in addition to these institutions.

Our provision of CAB Abstracts as a weekly updated bibliographic database continues as our only other A&I database. Around 300,000 records were added in 2010-2011 from over 7,500 serial titles, books, monographs, technical reports, proceedings, patents and published theses – reaching 6.3 million records. Full text provision also increased, with over 100,000 items available in 2011.

Continuing Access Services and Related Projects

UK LOCKSS Alliance and CLOCKSS Related Projects

EDINA has been supporting UK LOCKSS Alliance for three years, providing support to members and coordinating the development of the operation as a self-governing co-operative organisation.

Maintenance funding is raised by subscription from its 16 members, and we have just completed the first of a three-year grant from JISC for development and community engagement. The goal is to build capacity and collaborative action to ensure continuing access to scholarly work that universities regard as important and at risk. This includes taking advantage of what is done nationally and internationally. EDINA’s role is to provide technical development and programme coordination.

EDINA also plays a support role for initiative taken by the University of Edinburgh as one of seven founding libraries in CLOCKSS. Edinburgh is one of the 12 steward libraries in a global network of Archive Nodes. Together with Stanford University Libraries, EDINA acts as a designated Open Access host for ‘orphaned’ journal content when a trigger event is confirmed by the CLOCKSS Boards. To date four sets of content have been released, to test the readiness of the CLOCKSS system and to make journal articles available under Open Access that might otherwise have been lost to global scholarship.

The second phase of the Piloting an E-Journals Preservation Registry Service (PEPRS) project is now well underway, with a well-received beta service launched at the end of April 2011, now rebranded as The Keepers Registry, at http://thekeepers.org. This provides librarians and policy makers with information on who is doing what to preserve e-journal content. Working in partnership with the International Standard Serial Number International Centre (ISSN IC) in Paris, this relates the actions of archival agencies against details of over 80,000 electronic serials held in the ISSN Register. The archival agencies involved first included CLOCKSS, e-Depot/KB (National Library of the Netherlands), UK LOCKSS Alliance, Portico, and the British Library, and now includes HathiTrust. EDINA is now in discussion with other international agencies to include their holding information. Work will continue to enhance the functionality, involve additional agencies and establish The Keepers Registry as a sustainable, well-governed service. Related work has involved decision making at the ISSN Network for the assignment of ISSNs to the growing corpus of digitised journals.

Phase two of the Pilot for Ensuring Continuity of Access via NESLi2 (PECAN) project builds on work carried out jointly by EDINA and JISC Collections that identified the need to develop a shared service to record each HEI’s archival access to journal titles. Central to supplying this need is an “Entitlement Registry” which would provide an authoritative record of access entitlement, increasingly important when institutions cancel journal deals as a result of budget pressures and when titles move from one publisher to another. EDINA has been awarded short-term funding to take the first step towards developing a potential service for use by HEIs and publishers alike by implementing a prototype demonstrator of the software needed to store, manage and access the entitlement information. 

E-book service

Our e-book offering, the First and Second Statistical Accounts of Scotland, is one of the best contemporary reports of life during the agricultural and industrial revolutions in 1790s and the 1830s. Based on contemporary reports of the 938 parishes of Scotland, this is an example of a formerly JISC-funded project that now has a healthy uptake and sustainable future.

During 2010-2011 new materials were added to enhance the richness of the published Accounts: an index of the persons, predominantly ministers, responsible for compiling the reports that form the Statistical Accounts; an online Index of Maps (five maps in the First Account, and thirty-one in the Second) which gives a full description of each map and its location in the printed sets of the Accounts in Edinburgh University Library, Edinburgh Central Library, National Library of Scotland Map Library and Glasgow University Library; and a brief guide to key information sources on parish boundaries in Scotland.

Project activity to support access to research data

EDINA made substantial contributions to the University of Edinburgh’s research data management strategy this year through its University Data Library service. In December, the Data Librarian presented a paper co-authored with Vice Principal Jeff Haywood at the International Digital Curation Conference (DCC) in Chicago, arguing for institutional responsibility in research data management. In May the University passed a research data management policy, said to be the first of its kind in the UK.

In July, the Data Library team completed a year-long JISC-funded project MANTRA to produce openly licensed, online learning materials in research data management for PhD students to be delivered at the University and shared as an Open Educational Resource. The interactive topical units were created using Xerte and are highly customisable for re-use. Software-specific data handling practicals and video interviews were also created. The learning materials will also be accessible from the EDINA website for anyone to work through.

Maps and Data

Content services and related projects

Ordnance Survey Collection Related Projects

The Digimap Ordnance Survey collection contains maps at scales ranging from 1:1,250 up to 1:750,000, available for making maps online or for download. There are scanned raster maps (digital versions of Ordnance Survey's paper maps) as well as vector maps at a range of scales, including OS MasterMap®, the most detailed large scale mapping. It also includes postcodes, administrative boundaries, a gazetteer of place names and digital terrain models.

Over 140 universities and colleges used the service, with an average of over 46,000 active users, logging in over 280,000 times.

Digimap Roam has continued to provide a huge number of maps along with Digimap Carto. 6.5 million screen maps were viewed in this period. Carto is now used less for making screen maps due to the improvements that came in Digimap Roam. However, the number of high quality PDFs created by Carto has continued to increase. 155,000 PDF map files were generated from both Digimap Roam and Carto in this period.

Users downloaded 762,000 km2 of OS MasterMap® Topography Layer data, 15.1 million km2 of OS Integrated Transport Network (ITN) data, and over 440,000 data files from other OS data products. These data volumes are worth around £20 million at commercial cost.

The USeD project began in July 2011 and is looking at ways of improving the Data Download facility. The aim is to ensure that the new interface that is being developed for 2011-2012 is more intuitive and meets the needs of all of our users.

The complexity of the underlying data, the heterogeneous nature of the user base and the broad range of digital literacy across this user base poses both usability and learnability challenges of the first magnitude.

We propose to address this 'spatial literacy' gap by conducting user focused research to develop Personas which can be geared to improving work-flow for differently abled users across the spectrum from novice to expert.

Historic Digimap Related Projects

Historic Digimap provides access to digital scans of OS paper maps of Great Britain from 1843 to 1996.

This service is increasing in popularity with 76 subscribing institutions and almost 70,000 sessions across the year.

The introduction of Ancient Roam and Historic Download has meant that there has been a great increase in the amount of data that users are viewing and downloading. Over 3.5 million maps were viewed and nearly 460,000 files were downloaded, a significant increase on the previous year.

By having a close relationship with the other Roam interfaces, the Ancient Roam interface has benefited from the development of annotation and measurement tools.

The results of the metadata capture project with the NLS were also added into the service allowing our users to access the survey dates for Scottish historic maps.

A project was carried out with the National Library of Scotland (NLS) to create enhanced metadata for Scottish historic maps. The survey dates, that were not captured when Landmark Solutions originally created the data in Historic Digimap, were retrieved from the NLS’ copies of historic OS maps. This extra metadata has been requested by users since the Historic Digimap service was first launched so its addition for the Scottish maps was welcomed.

Walking Through Time2: The second phase of this project concentrated upon developing a sustainable platform to allow us to potentially roll out the application across Britain via the most popular smart phone platform. It concentrated on developing the application natively for the iPhone (rather than as a web app) and undertook testing and evaluation during the Edinburgh Festival 2010.

AddressingHistory: The second phase of this project was led by EDINA with in-kind support from the NLS. Development concentrated upon the sustainability and interoperability of the AddressingHistory tool and API thus resonating with JISC’s vision to build sustainable and durable deliverables. It has seen the re-engineering and ‘externalising’ of the existing parsing process, which devolves refining and editing responsibility to parties interested in a particular Post Office Directory. The interface has also been refined and a number of features and functionality implemented. All development code is open and available under a GNU General Public Licence.

Digimap for Schools offers easy access to a range of current OS maps, including digital versions of OS’s famous paper maps, the Landranger and Explorer series, as well as the most detailed OS MasterMap® mapping and street-level maps showing street names and road-atlas style maps. On the 14th April 2011, the service received the Gold Geographical Association Publisher’s Award in recognition of its significant contribution to geographical education.

The service was enhanced in May 2011 with the delivery of annotation and measurement tools. Students can now add point markers, lines, areas and text labels as well as measuring distances and areas of features on screen. With these tools in place, an assessment is under way to find out how successful the service has been in supporting OS encourage schools to move from print to digital maps.

Over 2500 schools have taken advantage of OS’s voucher scheme providing free access to Digimap for Schools for some schools, which finishes in December 2011.

Accessing Digimap for Schools as a subscription service is now overseen by JISC Collections and a small number of schools have taken up subscriptions. EDINA has delivered an online subscription interface to assist JISC Collections manage subscriptions. Enhancements to that interface are underway to allow schools to purchase the service via credit card payments.

Geology Digimap provides access to maps and data from the British Geological Survey (BGS). This service has also grown, the number of subscribing institutions increasing to 50, exceeding expectations.

The number of sessions has risen to over 30,000 for this year. There are now almost 58,000 registered users, of which around 20,000 are active.

The new Geology Roam interface introduced in 2009 – 2010 has enabled users to create a very large number of maps in this academic year, close to 650,000.

The interface has also received a number of enhancements over the year including the addition of JIDI images, an improved rock information map query tool and the annotation and measurement tools.

The results of the ABLe project were also fed into this service allowing users enhanced functionality to interact with the map and the legend. The user is now able to highlight rocks on the map by clicking on the legend and vice versa.

EDINA also delivers Marine Digimap, for mapping of the UK coastal zone, at various scales and detail, derived from Admiralty Charts. Users can download a feature-rich vector GIS dataset, SeaZone’s Hydrospatial® data, containing ‘topic’ layers on bathymetry and elevation, structures and obstructions, and conservation and environmental protection.

Over 15,000 users from 16 subscribing institutions have registered for the service, showing that it has appeal beyond those studying marine and the coastal environment.

This year we have added the Marine Roam interface, which uses the Hydrospatial® data. This provides a convenient and simple means of viewing this complex dataset. So far it has produced nearly 30,000 screen maps since it was launched in October 2010. Development has continued throughout the year with the addition of the measurement and annotation tools to the interface.

Discovery services and related projects

GoGeo Related Projects

GoGeo is a discovery service that brings together online resources (of all types) on the basis of location as well as subject. It is a critical component of the UK academic Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and, as a consequence of its interoperable architecture, can also play a part in surfacing academic resources to the broader cross-sectoral community UK SDI – the UK Location Programme’s Location Information Infrastructure (UKLP LII).

GeoDoc is the online geospatial metadata creator tool that sits behind GoGeo for providers of geospatial data to document their data using standards-compliant schema. The UK academic profile for ISO19115, known as AGMAP, is now aligned with the new national GEMINI2 and European INSPIRE metadata profiles.

During 2010-2011 GoGeo was given a new design to provide a more current look for the portal and to strengthen its core message. Simultaneously the portal was re-architected to use an open source catalogue toolkit, implementing INSPIRE compliant protocols ensuring GoGeo can interact, harvest from and make available records to be harvested by the UK Location Programme within data.gov.uk and European INSPIRE geoportal.

This is particularly important as during 2010-2011 the existing UK government geoportal, Gigateway, was decommissioned.

The overarching purpose of GECO is to foster a community or communities of users of geospatial resources within identifiable communities of interest. GECO aims to increase the use of geospatial tools, infrastructure and information; collate exemplars of use; identify and promote best practice; assist with the maturation of the UK academic SDI; promote the JISC Geospatial Working Group's (GWG) Vision for geospatial resources; champion awareness raising of INSPIRE, ensuring that the sector is cognisant of the obligations and opportunities; and promote good data management principles.

GoGeo Linked Data (GOLD) This work exposed the GoGeo Catalogue and the Scottish Government Spatial Discovery Portal CSW content as a Linked Data triple store, the objective of which is to improve the 'discoverability' of metadata records. A range of technical approaches were explored, including schema cross-walking, production direct from relational databases, and an UML to RDF approach to assess how best to create open linked geospatial metadata.

ScotSDI: EDINA renewed its partnership with the Scottish Government to develop a geospatial discovery metadata service as part of a Scottish SDI. This addresses obligations under INSPIRE for public bodies to produce, maintain and manage metadata about their geospatial resources. Built using open source software, this enables creation and discovery of UK standards compliant GEMINI2 dataset, series and service metadata records.

The Interoperable Geographic Information (IGIBS) project is building on prior work demonstrating how Shibboleth can be used to provide an organisational model for SDI. We have shown that Shibboleth can be used to protect OGC Web Services without requiring any changes to the interfaces. EDINA is working with the Welsh Government and the University of Aberystwyth to address the access control barrier by prototyping a simple tool that should allow users to quickly view their data using interoperability standards in combination with Welsh Government data. The Use Cases being explored are emerging from the UNESCO designated Dyfi Biosphere Reserve.

Repository services

EDINA pioneered strategies for sharing resources within the limitations of third-party licence with the ShareGeo repository, building on experience with Jorum. Developed in a JISC funded-project, ShareGeo allows users to share and re-use derived geospatial datasets within the Digimap service under the JISC Collections licensing arrangements. It enables data sharing to take place in an authenticated environment that would otherwise not be possible.

In April 2010, OS made a suite of core geospatial data products available as OS OpenData, with Creative Commons Attribution licence terms conducive to sharing and reuse of derived data via open repositories. Through ShareGeo Open, an open access repository, researchers, students and lecturers creating geospatial data can deposit their research and operational data in a repository open to all to search and download.

Since ShareGeo Open went live in June 2010:

  • there have been over 6,400 data downloads
  • the top 3 downloads are the ONS Postcode Directory, Postcode Areas for Great Britain and a GB-wide Digital Elevation Model
  • the National Library of Scotland is using ShareGeo Open to make available historic data outputs from the AHRC funded Visualising Urban Geographies project

During the last year, EDINA developed a plugin to allow direct data deposit into ShareGeo Open from within desktop mapping software via the SWORD protocol.  The plugin has been downloaded over 660 times.

Census services

UKBORDERS provides access to and support for a large online ‘filing cabinet’ of digitised boundaries and key postcode directory and related resources. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as the Geography Data Unit for the Census Programme, UKBORDERS is one of the most heavily used of the census services – in the 2010-2011 user survey it was the most frequently used service in a survey of 1358 users. Highlights over the reporting period include:
  • A successful bid for a further year’s operation whilst ESRC deliberate on the future and nature of the post 2012 census delivery portfolio.
  • The release of two new interfaces over the period – a Thematic Mapping Wizard allowing users to generate their own choropleth maps and a Dynamic Lookup Table service allowing users to create bespoke geography reference tables.
  • UKBORDERS also participated in the successful 2011 Census Conference.

agcensus offers grid square agricultural census data for England, Scotland and Wales. During 2010-2011:

  • The service and demo code were ported from MySQL to PostGIS.
  • 2009 and 2010 small area data for Scotland, and 2008, 2009, 2010 data for Wales (received from respective devolved government departments) were processed, converted and brought into service.
  • A subset of the decennial 2010 Agricultural Census (provided at 1km level of aggregation) will be forthcoming from DEFRA. Methodology for conversion from small area to grid square has been requested in order to establish anomalies with the in-house conversion process.

Additional project activity

The Spatio-Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisation (STEEV) project aims to build a spatio-temporal exploration and visualisation tool for annual energy efficiency coefficients such as energy ratings, likely energy demand and related CO2 emissions, modelled at Output Area level for a large regional geographical area of South Wales from 2000-2050.

Testing of back-end database and data loading has been achieved primarily through test data provided by our project partner at the Welsh School of Architecture. User interface and front-end design is reliant on back-end modelling and requires contextual and descriptive content such as policy-related energy scenarios. An annotation facility is being considered, which would allow stakeholders to annotate visualised content in real time.

Multimedia and Education

Multimedia services

JISC MediaHub was launched as a beta version in April 2011, followed by a full service release in August 2011. This service hosts multiple video, sound and image collections licensed or purchased by JISC Collections and aggregates metadata and links to multimedia content held by other collection owners.

While JISC MediaHub was in development, the three multimedia services remained popular: Film & Sound Online with 382 institutional subscriptions; Education Image Gallery with 88; NewsFilm OnLine with 350.

NewsFilm OnLine will continue to be freely available to subscribers until July 2012, both as the current service and as part of MediaHub in its component collections.

Film & Sound Online and Education Image Gallery were withdrawn from service on 1 August.

Multimedia projects

Based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic-language college on Skye, Tobar an Dualchais is a multi-million-pound Heritage Lottery-funded project to preserve, digitise and make available online up to 12,000 hours of recordings from the archives of BBC Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. EDINA and the University of Edinburgh IS department also contributed a production control and a cataloguing application for web-based input of metadata. EDINA continued to develop the website in 2010 and the full public version was launched successfully in December 2010.

Building upon earlier work for Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches and the Statistical Accounts of Scotland, EDINA worked collaboratively with the University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections during Phase 3 of an AHRC funded project. The Carmichael Watson collection in Edinburgh University Library is centred on the papers of the pioneering folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912). The project aimed to unlock one of the world's major folklore resources, for the benefit of academic scholars and the wider community. EDINA provided the software engineering skills to develop and deliver online access to this iconic work of Alexander Carmichael. This was launched in June 2011.

The final report of the short project, Scoping Study: Aggregations of Metadata for Images and Time-Based Media, was made available in September 2010. It indicated the benefits of, and opportunities for, aggregations of metadata for these resources and the barriers to having open and shareable metadata. It also described a number of scenarios in which such aggregations would be useful or required, and different models for aggregating metadata.

Education service: Jorum

Following the launch of the JorumOpen collection in January 2010, Jorum enjoyed continued growth in both the usage of the resources it contains, and the number of resources that are shared through the service. As of July 2011, visits to the service were five times higher than the peak usage before January 2010, and over 14200 resources were available, across a variety of subject areas – an increase of over 80%. Many of these resources were shared by users involved in the JISC / HE Academy OER Programme, which the Jorum team continued to support.

Jorum consolidated its collections on the DSpace platform in February 2011, and made all software outputs available for download and re-use in June 2011, through the EDINA Developer Corner and Github.

Jorum was developed and run jointly by EDINA and Mimas from 2002 until 2011. From August 2011, Mimas will be taking Jorum forward into service.

Middleware and Infrastructure

UK Access Management Federation Related Projects

The joint bid from JISC Collections and EDINA to be the Operator for the UK Access Management Federation from August 2011 to July 2014 was successful.  During the remainder of the 2010-2011 academic year, EDINA and JISC Collections worked with JANET(UK) on the transition arrangements. Because EDINA already acted as the technical operator for the federation, a smooth transition was expected and happened.

A contract was agreed between EDINA and SWITCH to form the Shibboleth Consortium to provide coordination and means to engage the personnel to develop the Shibboleth federated access management software. The Consortium will ensure development of the Shibboleth codebase upon which the UK Access Management Federation depends. EDINA, through its SDSS Expert Group activity, is the lead member of the Consortium and is responsible for the distribution of funding from JISC and SWITCH.

The federation continued to grow substantially, reaching over 850 members and 1,250 entities, the largest academic deployment in the world.

The UK Federation Support Team at EDINA manages the metadata that underpins it and supplies technical support to its members. In August 2011, a new centralised Discovery Service (WAYF) was implemented, based on user testing. This should improve the login experience for users throughout the UK education sector.

The SDSS Expert Group contributes, nationally and internationally, to the development and maintenance of the Shibboleth infrastructure and codebase. Nationally, the federation operator refers technical issues related to the operation of the UK federation to the SDSS Expert Group.

During 2010-2011, the SDSS Expert Group worked with Internet2 (I2) and the Shibboleth Consortium, participating in the Shibboleth core development team, with core Shibboleth software including the Shibboleth V3 IdP.

The expert group has contributed to the Embedded Discovery Service, which will support a more consistent login experience across different services by making it easy for service providers to deploy standard WAYF functionality familiar to users, but with their own branding and on their own servers, rather than depending on the federation’s Central Discovery Service servers.

The expert group is working with a small Internet2 subgroup to develop a technical architecture for inter-federation working. The work involves the refinement of an Aggregation Engine to allow the swapping of authorised metadata between federations. Significant progress this year means that the aggregation engine has now replaced the bespoke code previously used to generate the production UK federation metadata, while test metadata including entities from other federations is now also being generated daily.

WSTIERIA was a JISC-funded project which ran from January 2010 to March 2011 and investigated mechanisms for use of federated access management with web services. WSTIERIA evaluated possible solutions based on use of façade software and recent extensions of core Shibboleth code.

Unlock Related Projects

Unlock, the gazetteer and geo-referencing infrastructure service, provides two sets of web services; one is a “gazetteer cross-search”, comparing different sources of geographic data for information about place-names. The other is a “geo-parsing” service, using text mining techniques to extract place-names from resources (text or metadata) to allow collections to be searched by location.

Unlock Places offers search across licensed OS data sources for subscribers to Digimap OS Collection. Last year Unlock was adapted to include an open data gazetteer, which provides world-wide coverage and includes the OS Open Data products.

In terms of the JISC Information Environment, Unlock is a shared terminology service that can underpin geographic searching and geo-referencing for other services. Unlock can help with data and resource linking and improving the metadata describing scholarly work.

The JISC-funded CHALICE (Connecting Historical Authorities with Linked data, Contexts and Entities) project applied a text mining approach to volumes of the English Place Name Survey to produce a Linked Data historic gazetteer for areas of England, which could then be used to improve the quality of georeferencing in other archives. The gazetteer is linked to other placename sources on the Linked Data web via geonames.org and Ordnance Survey Open Data. We aimed to provide a historic place-name gazetteer covering a thousand years of history, linked to attestations in old texts and maps.

Intensive user engagement was undertaken with archive projects that can benefit from the open data gazetteer and open source text mining tools. The CHALICE outputs are for anyone working with historic material – be that archives of records, objects, or ideas. There is a Past Places browser to help illustrate the data and provide a Linked Data view of the data.

Unlock has also been working towards supporting tooling for the Bamboo Project which is building applications and shared infrastructure for humanities research.

OpenURL Router Related Projects

OpenURL Router continued to have high levels of use during 2010/2011, with 97 registered institutions which register the OpenURL resolvers they use with the Router. The OpenURL Router is a central registry detailing OpenURL resolvers, the institutions to which they belonged, and certain details (UK Federation identifiers, IP addresses and domain names) that help in identifying members of that institution. This allows referring bibliographic services to address OpenURL links to the correct resolver for each end user, without any prior knowledge of the user or their institution.

The JISC funded Using OpenURL Activity Data project built on the recommendations of the Shared OpenURL Data Infrastructure Investigation in 2008-9 by exploring the value and viability of releasing OpenURL activity data for use by third parties as a means of supporting development of innovative functionality.

Following an initial investigation to understand how IP addresses could be collected and processed without exposing the collecting organisation to legal risk, the data files based on the OpenURL Router log files were produced and released under the open license ODC-PDDL. An article recommender prototype was developed based on this data as an example of how the data could be used.

Additional project activities

A project began in February 2011 to produce Linked Open Data output from several different EDINA projects and services and to provide in-house expertise in linked data and related technologies. Several members of staff from both the geographic and bibliographic/multimedia development teams in EDINA have been working on Linked Data Focus. We ran three short software development "sprints" to produce Linked Open Data output from several different EDINA projects and services. During each sprint we held a workshop where we presented and discussed the work in progress, and invited people from outside EDINA to show off their related work.

The development work supports the broader ambition of Discovery, and has adopted its guidelines for metadata. We are working towards the production of an "infokit" documenting our findings and practices with a view to assisting and informing other institutions.

EDINA's work on providing “targeted” login URLs is being rolled out to its services. The Ediauth Targeted Login mechanism exists to provide a simple and robust alternative to shibboleth WAYFless URLs, for which there is considerable demand. Additionally, it is more flexible and informative than shibboleth WAYFless URLs. The targeted login URLs are being advertised and used for JISC MediaHub and is being used by the prototype CRIS bookmarking service. It will be rolled out to other EDINA services in time for the next revision of the EDINA's main website.

CRIS, the ‘Commenting and Referencing Infrastructure Service’, is a shared middleware service for bookmarking and commenting web resources, with a particular focus on multimedia. CRIS was developed as a JISC-funded personalisation service, with the potential to help service providers avoid duplicating implementation of the functionality in individual services. It also offers a basis for recommender functionality. CRIS has now been successfully tested with JISC MediaHub, to provide bookmarks and commenting. These functions are due for release in JISC MediaHub by the end of 2011.

User Support

Helpdesk

The EDINA helpdesk continued to be the primary point of contact for all enquiries concerning EDINA services and successfully resolved enquiries from end-users and support staff. EDINA’s licence and call-logging system (Helios) was further enhanced in 2010-2011 to facilitate registrations to use the Digimap for Schools service.

The helpdesk approved almost 50,000 applications to use the Digimap service across the three collections requiring registration – OS, Geology and Marine Digimap.

The helpdesk continued to handle licence requests in liaison with JISC Collections or directly for EDINA-administered services.

Support teams for individual service areas continued to operate, e.g. the Geospatial and SUNCAT User Support teams.

EDINA continued to provide technical and operational support to members of the UK Access Management Federation for Education and Research through the federation operator in 2010-2011, JANET UK. While the helpdesk team at EDINA resolved most technical and administrative queries, it continued to have the support of the SDSS Expert Group at EDINA to solve the more complex problems.

Website and Documentation

The EDINA website continued to act as the main access point for users of its services. In 2010-2011, several minor changes were made to the site. In terms of service presentation, JISC MediaHub was added to the site and Education Image Gallery, Film and Sound Online and Jorum removed. Several new projects started during the period and most created and used blogs to disseminate updates on their activities.

EDINA A5 flyers and A3 posters were produced and distributed, which are useful as publicity material for our site representatives and used by EDINA staff at events. As with existing services, new services were documented by means of Quick Reference Guides, and with support material on the EDINA website.

In addition, individual posters were produced for exhibitions and to supplement the standard range of materials. EDINA’s quarterly newsletter Newsline continued to play an important role in helping academic support staff and others with an interest in its services to keep abreast of developments. The news section of the website was refreshed regularly, on average twice weekly, in addition to services via social media channels.

Digimap Collections help pages were updated and rearranged using Adobe RoboHelp as a content management system. This has resulted in improved navigation and ease in identifying the correct answer to any given question. New case studies were added and information for support staff further improved.

Work began on a new design for the website for release in 2011-2012. To support this, an open source Content Management System will be used.

An accessibility review was undertaken and a policy document created. We continue to work towards compliance with the W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA for the website and services.

Communication and Collaboration

EDINA sees Social Media as a core channel for communicating and engaging with service users, project partners and stakeholders. EDINA launched a Twitter account in 2010-2011 for sharing key news items and events. This complements a broad range of social media presences (26 blogs; 11 Twitter presences; 8 Facebook pages; 4 YouTube channels) which support a broad range of EDINA activities.

In January 2011 we launched the EDINA Social Media Guidelines, which have received positive feedback and widespread interest both within and beyond the academic sector. The Guidelines were licensed under Creative Commons and we are aware that several organisations, including the University of Edinburgh, are using them as the starting point for their own guidelines or policies around Social Media.

EDINA’s expertise in Social Media has resulted in numerous publication, presentation and workshop opportunities. Workshops have included sessions on the use of Social Media for community engagement; communicating via Twitter; the development of Social Media guidelines; communicating and raising the profile of research via social media; and impact and metrics around Social Media. A book chapter on the use of Social Media Amplification at the Repository Fringe event in 2010 was published in January 2011 and the use of Social Media Amplification was later cited as a factor in the success of our bid to host Open Repositories 2012.

EDINA continued to make use of various JISCmail lists to keep users and support staff informed of service changes, e.g. for Digimap Collections to encourage discussion about the service between users in different institutions and disciplines. Other separate groups by email lists were contacted throughout the year with important announcements, as well as to enlist volunteers for trials and early adopters to new services and projects. A small number of user comments were submitted via feedback forms within service interfaces. Additionally comments received at events were fed back and acted on accordingly.

EDINA collaborated with other related providers in promoting and marketing its services. Examples include the Census Registration Service for UKBORDERS and JISC Collections for publicising JISC MediaHub. Links with the JISC Regional Support Centres (RSCs) continued and EDINA User Support staff attended several of their events throughout the year. Several promotional webinars were run for the multimedia services and Digimap Collections. Often with support from RSCs, these short events have been attended virtually by groups of people from around the country as part of an ongoing series to showcase online resources.

During the year, EDINA identified a number of relevant specialist conferences at which to exhibit e.g. GIS Research UK Conference, UKSG and MECCSA.

Training

Eight training courses were designed and delivered by EDINA’s User Support team in 2010-2011. The content, structure and delivery of courses were reviewed at the start of the academic year, in line with feedback from course participants and to reflect the TAP® training delivery method.

Feedback from training course evaluation was very positive. Participants are asked to rate aspects of the course on a scale of 1 to 6, where 6 represents Excellent and 1 represents Very Poor. The pace of the course, the balance of presentation v. activity, the training delivery style and the training materials were typically rated at 5 or 6. When asked to rate the extent to which their learning objectives had been met, almost all participants rated this 5 or 6, i.e. their objectives were fully, or almost fully, achieved. The content of these will be used to inform the content and structure of courses in 2011-2012.

A comprehensive set of training materials, available for re-use by users and site representatives, was maintained on service websites. New presentations were also disseminated via Slideshare.

User Support staff also contributed significantly to three workshops run by the ESRC Census Programme at UK academic institutions. EDINA staff delivered presentations and skills practice sessions. The content included retrieving data from the UKBORDERS service, plus mapping of census data and geo-coding datasets.

Webinars

Thirteen scheduled webinars were delivered, on Digimap Collections and EDINA’s multimedia services. The scheduled webinars were delivered using Wimba Classroom, a web conferencing product. The webinars were open to any user of the relevant service(s).

Several webinars were delivered to individual institutions, e.g. to a group of Architecture students at the University of Manchester. Institutional webinars were also offered when an institution subscribed to a new service or when a change of site representative took place.

Service Demonstrations

EDINA continued to provide service demonstrations for new services and interface updates. The service demonstrations were produced using the screen capture software Camtasia in a wide range of formats. New service demonstrations were published on the relevant service website and also disseminated to a range of social media outlets.

Design

During 2010-2011 there were design updates for existing services and interfaces, and interfaces were designed for several new services and projects. Associated promotional materials and corporate documentation were also updated or created. The following were the highlights of this work:

  • Design of additional functionality for the Digimap and Digimap for Schools services
    We have added several new functions, including measuring and annotation tools. Care has been taken with icon design to make sure that functionality is conveyed clearly and simply. Icon design has also been tailored to the very different target audiences.

  • GoGeo website
    A major redesign was completed this year which improved the usability, functionality and visual design of the service. We have moved away from a ‘newspaper’ style interface, with much information and links to browse on the homepage, to a more ‘compact’ design which is hopefully less daunting for the user to digest. For the first time we have used JQuery technology to create dynamic panels where the content is controlled by the user hovering their mouse, enabling the surfacing of much useful content on the homepage.

  • Carmichael Watson website
    There was a successful liaison between EDINA and the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) to design and develop a website archive for the work of the Scottish folklorist. The outcome was a website design which both reflects the era in which Carmichael Watson worked and shows off the many visual assets which the CRC hold in a showcase on the home page.

In addition, work started on the redesign of the EDINA and Digimap websites.

Usability Testing

The User Support team performed usability testing for both new and existing services. Paper prototyping was used to inform the initial designs. 'Accompanied surfing' was used to observe how users performed tasks on newly designed services or pages. These sessions were recorded for analysis.

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Contact us at: edina@ed.ac.uk
EDINA, Causewayside House
160 Causewayside, Edinburgh
United Kingdom EH9 1PR

EDINA is the Jisc-designated national data centre at the University of Edinburgh.

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