NSC institutions have always been open for all scientists and constitute the foundation of bio- and geo-diversity scientific research that studies life on Earth, past and present. Initially, they addressed fundamental questions in systematics, biogeography and geology. While this remains the core mission of NSC institutions, in recent decades European NSCs have taken on even greater significance (David, 2017). Many of them have turned their attention to tackling the most important challenge that humans face – the Anthropocene Challenge, that is to say, finding the model to combine human development with Nature conservation on a sustainable way. We live in a key moment for humanity; the global human population is predicted to peak in 2050, a fact that is making the next 30 years unique in the history of our planet’s species, our human civilisations and the way they interact. In this context, NSCs are a key resource that can support human decisions for the short- to medium-term with an understanding of the mechanisms that determine the long-term impacts of environmental change.
The scientific and technical approach to the DiSSCo mission can be very briefly summarised. DiSSCo sets the physical objects, the specimens, at the epicentre of the development of a robust, quality ensured and fit-for-purpose knowledge base for bio- and geo-diversity. This way, DiSSCo aims at putting NSC-derived information at the very core of data-intensive bio- and geodiversity sciences. To implement this revolutionary approach , it is imperative that institutions that hold NSCs not only improve the efficiency of access and reach of their assets, but that they completely change their business model to support a transformative shift in the way NSCs are used across scientific disciplines.
By building the required economies of scale (i.e. the pool of resources to improve overall effectiveness), DiSSCo will significantly improve the role of NSCs in frontier scientific research. Furthermore, organisations will benefit from being able to better understand, describe and monitor the impact of their collections data in different scientific disciplines. Finally, organisations will be able to develop their specialisation and prioritisation strategies, within the wider DiSSCo community and in alignment with national primacies (e.g. Smart Specialisation Strategies), as well as developing and harmonising common research and innovation agendas.
DiSSCo RI works for the digital unification of all European natural science assets under common curation and access policies and practices that aim to make the data easily Findable, more Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR).