A door to the digital transformation

DiSSCo’s Community Services

DiSSCo will create a unique access point for integrated data analysis and interpretation through a wide array of digital services provided by its community. The services aim to serve real life needs and therefore are based on the priorities set by collection providers and a robust base of user stories.

What are we trying to achieve?

  • Support and improve both physical and digital access to European Natural Scientific Collections (NSCs)
  • Enable and support industrial scale digitisation of the collections
  • Provide enhanced interpretation, curation, annotation and use of specimen data by novel, machine-actionable mechanisms

DiSSCo’s services will bring about change

DiSSCo’s services will help NSCs providers become an integral part of the European and Global scientific community, making them better equipped for changing user needs and new scientific usage of collections.

For researchers, the services mean improved efficiency to become more responsive to urgent needs. DiSSCo’s services will also accelerate biodiversity discovery, improve visibility in their contributions and reduce the global carbon footprint derived from trips and shipments of specimens.

DiSSCo’s services will bring about change in the way technology, processes and people interact. They open the door for a true digital transformation of Natural Science Collections.

Services and their development status

DiSSCo aims to become operational around 2025 but some of the services are already under development. To indicate the status of development we use Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). 

All the TRLs given on this page are as of that July 2021.

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ELViS: one-stop shop for access to NSCs

European Loans and Visits System


ELViS is a one-stop shop for access to the collections in Europe. It provides a unified way to request visits, loans and virtual access. Virtual access requests through ELViS provide digitisation on demand as a new type of access, including support for collaborating on VA ideas and proposal submission. The request mechanism implemented in ELViS also enables future services for tracking usage metrics, monitoring and reporting and connecting collection usage with research outputs.

Version information

Version 1 developed in the SYNTHESYS+ project. Released in March 2021 with support for Transnational Access (TA) and Virtual Access (VA, digitisation on demand) requests. Version 2 to be released in 2022 with support for Loans.

TRL status

7-8. Operational with a limited number of collection providers, in use for TA and VA through SYNTHESYS+ calls.

Hosted by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Picturae

CDD: Visualizing collections across institutions

Collection Digitisation Dashboard


The interactive dashboard visually summarises the digitisation status, content and strengths of collections across the community of institutions through a number of visual elements. It displays progress in digitisation and provides summaries and comparisons regarding the number of objects, taxonomic scope, categories of preservation, stratigraphic age, geospatial range, level of digitisation and digital content availability for reuse. The dashboards implement a novel specification for standardised collection descriptions to enable cross-institutional aggregation and comparison of data.

Version information

Prototype was developed in the SYNTHESYS+ project and released in 2020 with standardised collection information from a limited number of institutions. Further development is planned for 2021/2022 to automate the data import and allow for more institutions to join, to create a pipeline for data updates through the CETAF registry and to become compliant with the TDWG Collections Descriptions standard under development.

TRL status

6. Working prototype with a few collection providers.

Hosted by Natural History Museum, London

SDR: Taking digitisation to an industrial scale

Specimen Data Refinery


SDR will contribute to transform the model of digitisation workflows that process individual specimens and their metadata one-by-one into a model of industrial scale digitisation. For that purpose, SDR will provide a platform that integrates artificial intelligence and human-in-the-loop approaches to extract, enhance and annotate data at scale from digital specimen images and records. When connected with DiSSCo infrastructure, a wide range of potential applications could be developed by third party providers such as automated condition checking of specimens, natural language descriptions provision for specimens and taxonomic trait extraction.

Version information

Specimen Data Refinery (SDR) services are defined and prototyped in the SYNTHESYS+ project. These will use DiSSCo infrastructure for Digital Specimens and their images being prototyped in the DiSSCo Prepare project.

TRL status

3. Concept formulated and experimental proof of concepts in place.

Service URL not yet available.

DiSSCo’s commitment to Open Science

Knowledge Base


The Knowledge Base provides a central search and browse interface to find all documentation related to DiSSCo. These include research outputs created in DiSSCo linked projects (DiSSCo Prepare, ICEDIG, ENVRI-FAIR, MOBILISE and SYNTHESYS +) but also other contents: training materials, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), best practices, guidelines, recommendations, technical documentation and documented decisions. The Knowledge Base is implemented with DSpace, which includes a hierarchical structure for the documents, full text search, a REST API, custom metadata, versioned documents, DOIs. The service will be integrated with other DiSSCo services that require linkage to documentation such as the helpdesk. metadata inclusion will ensure findability in search engines like Google

Version information

A beta version is available through

TRL status

6. Prototype created in DSpace 6 as beta, a more complete implementation will follow in DSpace 7 which offers improved integration with e.g. ORCID iDs.

Hosted by Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin.

Information and support in one place



The DiSSCo Helpdesk will be a central place for all questions related to DiSSCo services or access programmes such as the virtual access and transnational access calls in ELViS. It will be integrated with DiSSCo services, starting with ELViS in 2022. The Helpdesk is using JitBit software. First line support is done by CETAF secretariat while second line support goes to selected CETAF/DiSSCo institutions (starting with SYNTHESYS+ NA2 partners). Third line support goes to developers of services such as Picturae for ELViS.

Version information

The system is used for testing in 2021 and will be used in production with ELViS from 2022.

TRL status

7. Helpdesk has been set up and tested but is not in production yet.

Hosted by CETAF, the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities and Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden.

AAI: Improved identification and access

Authorisation and Authentication Infrastructure


An infrastructure will be created to be used by services that require authentication (identification of a user) or authorisation (level of access for a user). Users can authenticate themselves through their institutional accounts, if the institution is connected to eduGAIN. If their institution does not yet offer this possibility, users can authenticate themselves through login with their ORCID iD or social media credentials (single sign-on). Institutions will be able to give selected users of services authorization to access data that has legal restrictions, such as sensitive data on rare species. For verification of users the system will experiment with ORCID profiles augmented with extra data about expertise and affiliation.

Version information

The system is implemented as pilot in SYNTHESYS+

TRL status

4. Initial demonstrator created for experimentation.

Demo, hosted by GRNET.

UCAS: Connecting specimen data

Unified Curation and Annotation System


UCAS will provide event-based curation and annotation functions on the DS for experts in the community and for machines. Transactions on the data will be stored as well as provenance information related to the curation or annotation events.

Version information

Proof of concept available

TRL status

1. Basic principles are being discussed.

Hosted by DiSSCo

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Experimentation with FDOs

Digital Specimen Repository

Description is a data repository for experimentation with Digital Specimen and other DiSSCo-related FAIR Digital Objects (FDOs).

Version information

Demonstrator, developed in the ICEDIG project to test the Digital Specimen concept. Will be further developed into a pilot to support development of the Open Digital Specimen specification.

TRL status

3. Experimental proof of concept.

Hosted by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Senckenberg.