DiSSCo welcomes Israel and Switzerland as new associated members

19 April 2022


DiSSCo’s family continues growing! Two new associate membership applications to DiSSCo were approved during our last interim General Assembly, those from the Israel Natural Science Collections Consortium (INSCC) and the Swiss Association of Natural History Collections and Museums in Switzerland (Musnatcoll). Our new partners raise the number of DiSSCo institutions to well over 170, while the number of countries now involved are 23.

Before we go on: we will publish specific interviews with representatives of both consortia here soon but for now, this post should offer you a bit of a profile of each of the new associate members of DiSSCo.


Right in the middle of one of the Vavilov centres of crop diversity, Israel is a continental corridor and biodiversity hot spot whose natural history collections have a pivotal role to address fundamental scientific questions, especially those associated with the biodiversity crises.

The Israel Natural Science Collections Consortium brings 4 new member institutions to DiSSCo, a move that seeks to bring scientific collections to the information age by investing in a linked open data approach and generally by furthering digital collection services, building scientific and technical capacity and improving physical access to Israeli natural science collections.

photo: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, member of INSCC.


Mountainous regions are considered both cradles and sanctuaries of biodiversity. Considering that Switzerland covers a good chunk of the high Alps, there must be little doubt that the country is another biodiversity hot spot.

The Swiss Association of Natural History Collections and Museums in Switzerland represents 38 Swiss institutions. Together with the Swiss Academy of Science, Musnatcoll and other partners have developed a unique framework called SwissCollNet, committed to improving the accessibility to Natural History Collections for research, education and society. One of the long-term goals of this project is precisely the incorporation of Swiss virtual collections into international initiatives such as DiSSCo.

(*) Although the Natural History Collection of the Principality of Liechtenstein (Naturkundliche Sammlung des Furstentums Liechtenstein) is part of Musnatcoll, it will not become part of DiSSCo at this stage. Instead, Musnatcoll will be acting solely as the consortium for Swiss institutions (i.e. the Swiss node).

photo: The Museum of Natural History of Geneva, member of Musnatcoll.

Needless to say, the DiSSCo community is honoured to welcome both new associate members and look forward to join efforts in the future.

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4. Among DiSSCo services, which one(s) will your role most benefit from?

Dag Endresen: Maybe the DiSSCo DOI registration entity? Professional mechanisms for physical specimen level persistent identification will be a critical fundament for very many other dependent services to build further from. (…) UCAS & NSIDR.org: these services for persistent specimen-level (or still only planned at digital-specimen-level?) and annotation could be a giant step forward for museums – and of huge direct benefit to tasks under my role at the museum in Oslo!!

Henry Engledow: SDR – this interests me the most. As I mostly work with the data and analysis – this could greatly help me in improving the quality of our collections.

Pierre-Yves Gagnier: ELVIS, Dashboard, Knowledgebase, Helpdesk, Autorisation infrastructure, are of interest for researcher or collection manager but not for the role (delegate for digital innovation) that I play in my institution beside the development of these applications. My role will benefit more from the Digital specimen concept from the Digital Specimen Repository and Specimen Data Refinery for innovation and specimen data quality control.

Helen Hardy: I hope that DiSSCo will provide both a catalyst, a platform and potentially a funding/grant mechanism for us to offer digitisation on demand and digital services such as additional imaging or even chemical and genomic analyses. It will be a challenge to be ready for this but will be really great if there is a good way to link users/demand with those services and with sources of funding.

Data standards and similar frameworks developed with or around DiSSCo are enormously valuable for data linkage and usefulness. (…)

Bram Langeveld: Collection Digitisation Dashboard, Specimen Data Refinery and Digital Specimen Repository seem most promising as they will increase our digitization efficiency and may result in more use of the results.

Myriam van Walsum: To improve our data quality, it would be interesting to implement UCAS; getting enrichment through annotations. However, this will have a major impact on our collection application landscape. How do we approve data and get that data back into our own CMS and collection portal? (…)

5. If you could make one or two suggestions to help DiSSCo be more supportive or responsive to your role needs, what would they be?

Lorenzo Cecchi: (…) For those that will be outside at the beginning, the benefits in joining DiSSCo should be always higher than the effort needed to join. To this goal, I’m expecting that the training strategy, especially in terms of user-friendly and multilingual communication documents and tutorials, will have a central role.

Dag Endresen: Support with finding a model for alignment of the GBIF node manager role and the DiSSCo node role. There are many overlapping mandates and tasks.(…) Some kind of progress on citation metrics services for the granularity of individual physical museum specimens. And FAIR data certification for museums in DiSSCo. Such services would most likely be a powerful demonstration of the need for DiSSCo when approaching national research council funding.

Henry Engledow: We need a good CMS that is support by the community and not defined by national borders. The development or support of tools for data cleaning, or that support research (…)

Helen Hardy: Be clearer about DiSSCo strategic vision and goals – not just what it might be but the impact it is intended to have and key communications messages about that for us all to use (…) – this would help me as a national/local leader in digitisation strategy.

Anne Koivunen: Currently, it would be nice to find the outputs produced in the DiSSCo projects more easily e.g. the Knowledge base could be updated more regularly.

Myriam van Walsum: We make short term and longer term plans for our applications. The DiSSCO services will have an impact on these plans. To be able to allow for these developments, we have a need to know which requirements we need to meet to be able to implement them at a later date. (…)

Luc Willemse: Communicate a lot, lot more with the community based on use cases and the role DiSSCo will play in improving or changing these and how this benefits researchers, collection managers etc.

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