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JISC distributed image service: Strategy, policy framework, service environment & implementation plans

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Author: Catherine Grout, January 2001

The first visible policy statement to CWG attempting to co-ordinate JISC image policy and service provision was made early in 1998. The major thrust of this was "to integrate access for UK Higher Education to distributed high quality image resources and to encourage their use in scholarly research and teaching" (JISC Collections Manager, January 1998). By this time three JISC services (TASI, HEDS and AHDS ) and one JISC funded project (Knowledge Gallery/JIDI) had all received initial funding (in 1996) and were engaged in aspects of digital image creation, management, delivery and preservation.

Later on in 1998, issues of image delivery rather than creation or use became the focus of attention with the specification of, and tender process for, a central service to manage image delivery, "Digital Image Delivery Service, (DIDS)". By March 1999 the tender process for the central image delivery service was complete. However the CEI strategy group, established to develop the DNER, decided that given that the nature of service provision within the DNER was intrinsically distributed, it made sense for reasons of policy as well as economy to re-scope image service provision. As a result none of the tendering organisations were chosen to initiate a DIDS. Following this decision the 'JISC Distributed Image Service' was scoped in September 1999. The initial policy documents were brought to the CWG by the Collections Manager, who also used them as a basis for recruiting a JISC Image Co-ordinator.

Therefore the JDIS carries with it a history of policy evolution, and as a result is far more comprehensive in focus than simply the replacement for a centralised image delivery mechanism. JDIS was scoped to deal with integrating all aspects of the digital image life cycle and the funded services that support the process, from identification of new content, through to promoting usage and long term preservation.

  The core aims of JDIS are:

  • A fully operational managed service environment within the DNER that supports interaction with all stages of the digital image lifecycle, underpinned by mechanisms for inter-service collaboration
  • Complementary digital image collections, both internally managed within the DNER and externally accessed through developing links to fusion services, that are sufficiently comprehensive to satisfy the range of learning, teaching and research needs within Further and Higher Education.

Potential for image use in Higher and Further Education

One of the clear outcomes of the process of consultation with JDIS stakeholders that has taken place in order to frame this document (as well as more casual discussion with a variety of image providers and users over the past four years), is that levels of knowledge about image usage and its potential varies enormously throughout HE and FE.

Some discipline areas have a highly developed understanding of the roles that digital image collections can play in learning, teaching and research (for example, many branches of the visual arts and archaeology). Others recognise that the demand for suitable images is potentially very high, but do not necessarily have digital or non digital collections firmly embedded within research, learning and teaching processes (for example all health sciences, environmental sciences and life sciences). Thirdly, many subject areas would characterise images as being useful primarily because they provide graphical material to supplement other core learning, teaching and research materials such as texts, or primary data (for example, Maths and Computing, Languages, Literature and Culture, Social Sciences and History). In this respect their demand for images may be less frequent, more casual and expressed in a less proactive and focussed manner.

Obviously any such characterisations are at this stage too simplistic to provide a working model for prioritising collections development for the JDIS. It can also be argued that the JDIS has a role to play in increasing an understanding of the potential for image use so that users can make more educated decisions about their future requirements in this area. However it is evident that more work needs to be done before a complete understanding of image use potential is reached, and such fundamental research is recommended as part of the JDIS development. (see Section 2.1)

Defining 'image' for the JDIS

As a pre-requisite for the development of the JDIS, there was a need to develop a workable and agreed definition of what constitutes an image. This has been essential in order to be clear about the nature and scope of the future JISC image assets, how they are managed, and how users are supported. The following points of principle establish a working, if not "perfect" , delineation of the boundaries of the JDIS.

Recommendation 1 (a - d)

  • Image file format is not used as a universal definer of an image. The JDIS concerns itself with what are primarily "graphic works" in the physical world The service environment will build in some flexibility, but will not focus on images whose information/useful content is derived primarily from textual or numeric data, which can be presented in a variety of other ways, as well as an images, for example GIS data. In achieving such a definition there will inevitably be images that carry a combination of information content, for example illuminated manuscripts or music scores. These both carry graphical information and also text or other notation. In the case of these "mixed images" the best way of serving them across the DNER service environment will be considered by the Collections Group, and an appropriate decision reached. Some graphic works can clearly exist within the context of other text based media. For example illustrations in a book or article. These could be identified by use of metadata to provide information about their location and content.
  • Metadata descriptions of Images in the physical world are within the scope of the JDIS A principle element of the resources populating the DNER are currently metadata descriptions, bibliographic or otherwise, of resources that exist as physical rather than digital objects. While the JDIS may be envisaged primarily as a method of delivering and retrieving information about the digital image banks it holds or provides access to. It is also appropriate for the service to consider as within its boundaries, metadata to describe image collections that are not currently digital. For example text databases or resource descriptions that point toward physical image sources. It seems likely that if these metadata records are within scope, the Image Service will be far more useful and comprehensive, and of far more use to researchers as well as within learning and teaching.
  • The JDIS concerns itself with promoting and engaging with what is fundamentally different and unique about using a digital image collection and has as its basis an understanding of how this differs from its physical counterpart. Similarly it is important that JISC image related policy demonstrates an awareness of the problems that engagement with the digital image for learning and teaching and research purposes will incurr.
  • The JDIS concerns itself with still images rather than time based media Any issues of overlap with time based media, for example delineation of responsibility for 3d, or Virtual Reality panoramas that do not currently fall neatly into the responsibility of the JDIS or Moving Picture and Sound Working area will be assigned for further co-ordination in consultation with the DNER Collections Group. 
Service Environment & Development

Introduction: Overall Schema

  • The overall diagram of the JDIS above, uses the metaphor of the digital image lifecycle from identification to preservation to provide the basis for mapping the activities of existing JISC services. It is evident that there are a number of existing players within each stage. One of the key recommendation areas of JDIS image policy is methods for resolving overlap or competition between services.
  • Once these specific stages have been clearly articulated it will be easier to define collaboration across the image life cycle stages, as services will have an enhanced understanding of their roles in the JDIS. This articulation will effectively join-up the image life cycle and therefore at the same time define the overall JDIS architecture. It should be recognised that none of these stages are or should be independent from each other, all stages of an image life cycle are linked, and the same user or group of users may interact with some or any of them.
  • One of the primary roles of JDIS is to encourage collaboration between services that relate to digital images. A key way of cementing this collaboration, is by defining roles which allow overlap to be minimised and maximum benefit to be gained by JISC services and users in closer interworking.
  • It is evident that none of this will take place efficiently unless an architecture is developed based on a pragmatic view of existing service provision and how this can be built on.
  • JDIS therefore attempts to be both pragmatic within this existing culture, but a force for catalytic change where rationalisation is clearly needed to improve overall service provision to users within this context.
  • It is evident that this schema, and the diagrams that follow in this section have wider applications. For example parallel diagrams of another digital resource types within the DNER, e.g. the moving picture and sound area could be constructed to explicate service provision in that area. Furthermore, a similar road map could also be drawn of DNER service provision as a whole.
  • It is hoped that these findings and recommendations will inform as well as take account of the outcomes of the DNER service governance review as that emerges.

Relationship of this schema to DNER Service Environment Diagram; produced by Lorcan Dempsey; August 2000.

Content/Service Delivery = Sects. 2.1- 2.4 , Fusion Services = Sect. 2.5, Presentation = Sects. 2.5, 2.6. The presence of appropriate Middleware within the JDIS is implicit.

Collections Identification/Development

  • At this stage there is limited legacy (there is a greater legacy in some other life cycle areas dealt with here), for the process of identifying high quality sources of images for use in the DNER
  • However there is a legacy for the matrix of responsibilities through which JISC committees, staff and services have identified content for inclusion in the DNER. This range of activities has been the focus of a Content Mapping Study commissioned by JCEI. The process of re-articulating these responsibilities is therefore part of a wider development. This section helps to shed light on current working practices and gaps in the image area and others.
  • It should be recognised that the content that may be identified for inclusion in the JDIS may:

a) already be created (where JISC may be deciding to enter into a licensing or other arrangement for access to content)

b) out in the community or elsewhere awaiting dedicated funding for creation

In the case of a) the chain passes directly from Identification to Delivery by passing the Creation stage and therefore the services who support that activity.

  • It is clear when analysing the collections identification process that a clear gap exists. This gap is a structured and regularly accessible mechanism for formative feedback from the community on content needs. One way of solving this would be to put in place a pool of subject or other representatives whose function it is to interact directly with end users and act as a conduit for their needs. Once established this expert pool could be tapped into by a variety of agencies, JISC co-ordinators, JISC Services, other agencies such as the LTSN who have a stake in this area.
  • The diagram at the beginning of 2.1 illustrates how user groups could interact to support the identification of high priority image (and other) content for learning, teaching and research purposes. The group would also act to inform user communities about what may be on offer; as a conduit in translating service provision and content provision into more manageable and familiar scenarios and language.
  • It is difficult to see how without some targeted investment to support identification of content, user needs will ever be efficiently passed up the decision making chain.

Recommendation 8 (a – d)

a) Subject Groups to provide a collections development forum should be set in place:
The DNER Collections Group have been investigating the membership and function of a series of subject groups composed of both HE and FE members who will act as a conduit for user needs for electronic resources. The Collections Group has also been considering how communication between these groups and other community subject/user groups will be managed. These groups would look at the range of collecting areas rather than images in particular.

However if necessary sub working parties may be developed in areas that develop a high level of interest/demand for image resources, or where specific consultation exercises are needed.

b) Responsiveness to reviews of the JISC Content Collection and the evolution of the Collections Policy:

The JDIS development will be responsive to the gaps in the existing JISC funded content collection which will be identified as part of the DNER Collections Subject Mapping Exercise which will report in February 2001.

Criteria for selecting suitable sources for future digitisation of images and other strategic collecting areas are currently taking places as part of the process of revising the Collections Policy.

The Images Steering Group as proposed in Section 4.2 would also be well placed to take a lead in assisting with the prioritisation of image resources in the DNER

c) Commission Survey of Image User Needs:

These cross format processes will help to smooth the path of identification of suitable content for the JDIS however there is a clear need to undertake research into how images are currently used across the various subject areas across the DNER. It is expected that:

  • It will also focus on the similarities and differences of approach for example between the arts and humanities and the physical sciences that began to emerge through the JDIS consultation process.
  • This exercise will also take into account the needs of FE in embedding images in learning materials.
  • It will furthermore not only look at current demand in various subject areas but highlight
    potential for demand.
  • It will identify how in certain areas demand may need to be encouraged and stimulated and through what means this is best achieved.
  • Overall it will give valuable data on and an enhanced understanding of user needs for images within the JDIS which is not currently available.
  • This study will facilitate the identification of new content but will also enhance the "Use" section of the JDIS lifecycle.
  • It should also be noted that TASI have a remit to support the use of images as well as their creation so may well be a suitable candidate for this commission. Certain economies of scale may also exist here.
  • The involvement of JCALT in commissioning or facilitating such a study should also be considered in this context
  • This may be work which could be usefully extended to serve other emerging areas; for example time based media.

d) It is recommended that funding reserved from the 5/99 Learning and Teaching Programme to support a project in the imaging area should be allocated to a proposal under development

A working title for the proposal is: 'Understanding the use of images in learning and teaching through exemplar digitisation'

Its aims will be:

  • To promote the use of images in subject areas who do not currently have a developed sense of their potential in learning and teaching through practical and theoretical training in image digitisation, collections management, metadata and application to specific learning and teaching scenarios. It is expected that the LTSN Subject Centres in relevant areas will be directly involved in the project.
  • It will directly contribute to JDIS’s need to better understand image user needs, and ways to promote the use of images, and will complement the remit of the Technical Advisory Service for Images who will be directly involved in the project.
  • This activity would also complement the broader survey of image user needs as recommended in c)

e) Retaining a watching brief over image rights clearance issues:

The Collections Manager for Multimedia has been an active participant in the Multimedia Rights Working Group and the JISC/PA Working Group on permissions to use images in teaching and learning. This activity is moving slowly but concertedly toward building a consensus with rights holders in the image area, and developing suitable model licences.

At this stage it does not seem necessary to set in place a dedicated negotiation agent for still images, along the lines of the Moving Pictures and Sound in recognition of the complexities of rights clearance in that area. However, a watching brief will need to be kept over the amount of dedicated rights clearance activities that are needed to reach a critical mass of image content for use within the JDIS.

Image Creation Advice

  • The final goal of providing users with advice about the best way of creating digital images is to ensure that mages created within higher and now further education are of a high quality and also are fit for their intended purpose
    While it is of course desirable that all images created for use are of a high standard, it is reasonable that the JISC should make a higher investment through the provision of appropriate guidance for those images created by or for HE and FE. (This is represented by the arrows at the top of the diagram at 2.2, which illustrate a diminishing level of responsibility for direct co-ordination/investment within the DNER.)
  • It is evident that images created with advice from expert bodies funded by the JISC are likely to be:
    - Of a higher fidelity to their original sources/capture a higher percentage of appropriate information content;
    - Less likely to reside in proprietary formats or those with a short shelf life;
    - More likely to be catalogued, managed and maintained to a high standard;
    - More likely to fit in with learning, teaching and research needs.
  • JISC currently funds three services that are wholly or partly engaged in giving high quality advice to image creators, TASI, HEDS and the AHDS. A question mark naturally arises therefore over whether the image creation advice should be rationalised in order to avoid duplication of effort. Perhaps effort should be wholly concentrated in TASI in order for this to take place. However there are two main arguments against this;

a) Both HEDS and AHDS give added value to the advice they are providing to the community by virtue of their broader remits. For HEDS this value added comes from their hands-on experience of image digitisation as an on-going activity, and their experience of close management of image creation workflow and project management. For AHDS this value added comes from their subject based approach where they are able to advise data creators from the perspective of their specific discipline needs.The AHDS also has the perspective of a working archive so can advise directly on creation with a view to longevity and archiving issues for image collections in the arts and humanities.

b) It is also important to emphasise that both AHDS and HEDS provide this advice as it is complementary/essential to other aspects of their service provision. For HEDS, advice is part of the service they provide to both HE and non HE clients. For the AHDS, advice is a direct function they provide for the AHRB funding applicants and is also part of their remit for JISC to ensure that digital resources are created according to standards within HE and therefore are suitable for long term re-use by others.

  • Therefore the fact that three JISC funded services do to varying extents provide advice on image creation is not in itself a problem. This is emphasised by the range of experience they can collectively bring to directly enhance the quality of this advice.
  • However there is evidently a potential problem with users’ potential confusion about which service they should go to for advice on image creation.
  • It is recommended that TASI/AHDS and HEDS develop a user handling protocol to resolve how queries are shared between them, and re-directed as necessary. In turn this protocol can be publicised to users to make them clear of their remit and relationships to other services. This kind of protocol is already being defined between TASI and VADS and could viably be extended to include the whole AHDS. HEDS and TASI are being encouraged to meet to address a way of handling overlap. This user handling protocol would enshrine within in it the notion of a core user community for each service and "advice" service levels provided to them.
  • A user handling and re-direction protocol apart from handling users’ potential confusions and expectations of services can also offer richer advantages to the services involved. For AHDS it can raise awareness of collections being digitised in their subject areas, for TASI it can ensure that their services are being used as a first port of call for advice, and also that this burden can be shared with other services as needed. For HEDS it can potentially assist with the identification of new clients in the FE and HE sectors.

It is also clear the collaboration on the updating/development of appropriate guidelines for data creators that has taken place between TASI and the AHDS over the past three years, should continue in this phase of their service development as far as this is required. The opportunity to develop this guidance in conjunction with HEDS in a more active way could also be further developed.

Recommendation 9 (a – c)

a) Develop and Implement Image Advice User Handling Protocol for JDIS, and note broader implications for DNER services working practices:

TASI/HEDS and AHDS are required to develop a formal user handling protocol facilitated by the Collections Manager for Multimedia. Following this the roles of TASI/AHDS and HEDS in providing image advice are formalised.

It would also be useful to consider the extent to which DNER Services as a whole would benefit from a more carefully articulated and formal user handling protocol to ensure closer interworking and reduce any redundant effort.

b) Continued investment in the upkeep of High Quality Image Advice and Standards Documentation

It is evident that TASI and other JISC services are not the alone in providing published guidelines on image creation and other related issues. For example, notable work by the RLG/DLF has currently been published examining image capture standards. It is recommended that TASI review guidelines in the image creation area, identify gaps and facilitate future collaboration between JISC services and others in developing such guidance to avoid overlap. A specific report and implementation plan would support such a development.

c) Joining up image advice across the JDIS and more broadly within the DNER:

Specific ideas for joining-up advice are:

  • JISC Advisory Services in particular TASI and the Moving Pictures and Sound Advisory Service take some responsibility for maintaining standards advice in their area on behalf of the DNER. The DNER team are producing a standards framework document with input from UKOLN and the Web Focus and Interoperability Focus, and it is clearly desirable that standards advice is consistent across the DNER. This document could therefore be updated by advisory services in so far as it relates to their areas.
  • Relevant Advisory Services in particular TASI are invited to contribute to the guidance provided for relevant projects under the DNER Development Programme (5/99).

Image Production and Digitisation Management

NB This section will be expanded to contain a diagram of an image digitisation management model recommended for long term use within the JDIS and which can potentially be generalised to apply to the DNER as a whole.

The model will illustrate a suitable process and workflow for this area of activity as well as indicating the functions and roles of JISC’s Service Providers.

This will be completed and added to this document once discussion regarding a suitable model has taken place and an approach agreed upon. See separate CWG Agenda Item

Results of Review of Image Digitisation Management Models and JIDI Evaluation

A formal JISC funded evaluation process has now taken place and has achieved the following objectives:

  • Reviewed the JIDI project and the model it developed for managing image digitisation
  • Examined the process of integrating image assets created by JISC funding within the DNER framework
  • Examined models used by other funders for managing digitisation programmes involving images

However it is also important to note that its recent findings and analysis have the potential to inform digitisation management models as a whole for the JISC and to help scope a coherent future managed digitisation programme.




Note to the diagram; subject areas as illustrated in the diagram at 2.4 are NOT intended to be a complete listing; they do however indicate a difference in approach for the Arts and Humanities areas. Arrows from image resources to image data hosts indicate the notion of re-mounting content. The potential for interoperability between image data in the arts and humanities is indicated on the left of the diagram.

The final goal of the JDIS is to provide a mutually recognised, workable, rational, transparent and sustainable distributed network of service providers providing image delivery. This involves:

1. Designation of Services involved in JDIS: a primary activity has been to decide which JISC services should be involved with delivering image content in the long term as part of JDIS

2. Division of Labour: a related activity is to decide on what basis image content is divided up between service providers as depicted above

3. JDIS Service levels: a third activity is to decide what level of service these providers are contracted to provide

4. Role of third party content providers: a fourth activity is to decide a preferred manner of introducing/handling the contributions of image delivery agencies who are not funded JISC services

5. Mounting of existing and new JISC funded image content: a fifth activity is to decide how existing and future JISC funded image content will be delivered within the JDIS

Recommendation 11 (a - n)

1. Designation of Services involved in JDIS

a) It is recommended that the following agencies have a core part to play in JDIS delivery;

i) A single elected Data Centre, see 2.,
ii) The AHDS

A watching brief will be kept over the activities of the National Mirror Service, and the Data Archive

Third party providers will be involved in image delivery in special circumstances see 3. below

b) All three Data Centres should be invited to tender to become the main delivery host for the JDIS and the normal home for JISC image content

(The ITT may also include tendering to provide an item level image portal service; see the next section for rationale and process.)

Rationale; Within the JDIS image area we have a clear opportunity to rationalise image data mounting because no significant legacy of activity in this area exists. Defining a main delivery host will also allow technical expertise in image handling and delivery to be fully developed, will aid the development of standards for interface development, rights management and authentication and charging mechanisms as appropriate to image content. It will also make interoperability with other relevant image hosts easier to implement.

c) It is recommended that the AHDS continue to play a part in image delivery for DNER for the subject areas they serve and that this should be re-articulated within the context of the JDIS.

It is evident that the AHDS’s main area of action and responsibility should continue to be the archiving and delivery of digital image banks created within the HE and FE community and in need of preservation and archiving.

Division of Labour

d) Part of defining the ITT to become the main JDIS host for the Data Centres will involve developing appropriate working practices for data mounting across the AHDS and Data Centres.

A set of mounting criteria which define suitable working practices for image collection mounting based on technical infastructure, content support and other issues will be defined by the Collections Group as part of this ITT.

Overall Criteria may be:

  • Infrastructure Requirements (storage and network capacity, authentication, registration and provision of user statistics etc.)
  • Interface and interoperability requirements
  • Content embedding and promotion dependent on context of learning, teaching and research
  • Archiving and preservation requirements

Other factors to consider:

  • Achievement of critical mass in subject/discipline areas
  • Timing
  • Wishes of Service Providers and Collection Owners

JDIS Service Levels

The ITT above will require Data Centres to respond to a set of preliminary level of service criteria for the JDIS. Additional assistance/consultancy may be needed to allow the Collections Manager for Multimedia to define preliminary service levels.
Levels of service will need to be evaluated against users increasingly sophisticated demands for interfaces to image systems that offer, flexible display and access to collections, as well as methods of browsing and searching of images.
JDIS delivery services should be required to work together to develop standards for interfaces together with relevant advisory services. A mechanism for this to take place could be the JDIS Service Providers Meetings, See Section 4.3, Recommendation 15 b)

e) The JDIS will provide momentum, and appropriate mechanisms for developing standards for high quality image interfaces for the purposes of the JDIS:

f) A recommended further development; is the integration of visually defined retrieval techniques, often referred to as Content Based Image Retrieval or CBIR technology within the JDIS

The JISC is well placed to take a lead in revisiting the essential work which has been taking place in the imaging community to develop content and visually based image retrieval and to provide a test bed for realising the potential of this work to sit along side text based systems.

This is also a response to the recommendations contained in a report on CBIR commissioned under the JTAP Programme and produced by the Institute of Image Data Research at UNN.

g) It is further recommended that the Mirror Service undertake a pilot image database mounting exercise. This will help to resolve the issue of the cost and sustainability of migrating image database for the purposes of Mirroring. It will also allow an assessment to made of the long term viability of this practice as part of the JDIS

Role of third party content providers to JDIS

h) it is not viable to build a sustainable service infrastructure based on an infinite number of potential image hosts. A clearly preferable option for incoming content is for it to be mounted at a designated JDIS delivery point as above.

i) It should be recognised however that there are some cases in which a third party image data host would become part of the JDIS delivery network as follows:

  • If the licence for content, which is identified as high priority to users of the JDIS only permits delivery though its existing service environment
  • If there are clear and quantifiable strategic advantages to be gained by a relationship with a particular image host then this will have bearing on the decision making process

j) If as a result of the circumstances above, a decision is made to introduce a third party within the JDIS then certain conditions should be placed on this third party within the overall service contract, or a strategy for obtaining these conditions in the course of the contract should be agreed.

These criteria are supported by and derived from the Collections Policy Selection Criteria and DNER Interoperability Guidelines,

Among these conditions are;

  • Implementation of JISC standards for authentication/implementation;
  • Configuring a Z39.50 gateway or other method of allowing value added interoperability within the DNER;
  • Active collaboration with JISC subject based services and other representatives to reach user bases
  • Compliance with overall standards for JDIS interface provision as these emerge

k) It is planned that the SCRAN Resource Base will be fully integrated in the JDIS and interoperable with other JDIS collections as indicated in the diagram at the beginning of this section.

Integration of SCRAN could take place by interoperability with the JDIS item level image portal, see Recommendations under Section 2.5
Alternatively SCRAN could build on work already initiated with the ADS to develop interoperability on the basis of the fusion of key arts and cultural heritage images, and in partnership with these relevant services.
Once an approach is better established formal proposals will follow.

5. Integration of existing JISC funded image content

l) As a general principle JISC funded image content, (obtained through either licensing or digitisation) should be mounted at a designated JDIS delivery point as defined in a) of this section

  • Dealing with existing digitised image content in this area is particular complex because of the legacy of image archives funded by JISC which reside within higher education institutions.
  • To a certain extent each case will be treated on its own merits and separate discussions are on-going with Bristol Biomed and HELIX to look at options.

The guiding principle however for the JDIS has to be sustainable collections which offer good value for money and high levels of service to end users. These service levels will be more attainable, and sustainable within the managed environment of service providers designated above.

Existing Funded Image Content

m) Because of this policy point, in principle all owners of existing JISC funded image content should be offered alternative hosting within the JDIS structure to integrate image collections within the DNER.

However their may be circumstances which suggest an alternative approach, for example;

  • Rights issues may dictate that such a development cannot take place without significant investment in clearance procedures for re-deployment of content
  • An alternative exit strategy which allows a community resource to be built, maintained and disclosed as part of the DNER environment may be an attractive alternative strategy.

n) The JDIS has the potential to take a lead in the integration of a range of funded image content from the ELIB and NFF programmes subject to prioritisation of work in this area.

  • It should be noted that for some of these collections a pressing need for an exit strategy does not seem to exist, and alternative hosting arrangements are currently being sustained.
  • It is suggested that this prioritisation is referred for discussions by the Images Steering Group proposed in 4.2
    New image content

This is a much clearer area to deal with as no legacy of image delivery provision will have been yet developed for new image digitisation projects funded by JISC.
The principle has already been established that all image and other content funded as part of the DNER development programme will be hosted within the JDIS and DNER delivery infrastructure
No funds have therefore been allocated directly to projects for the implementation of alternative delivery mechanisms. Alternatively projects are being encouraged to work closely with JISC designated service providers to ensure the integration of results within the DNER.

o) However it should be noted that some additional funds may be required for the hosting of certain 5/99 image collections and other kinds of content within the DNER

Access/Interoperability: 'Fusion'

This diagram embraces the idea that there are functions for both content delivery services, as well as subject hubs in the RDN for example to work together to provide a range of fusion services for image content which will add considerable value to the presentation layer accessible by end users of the JDIS.

  • It is unlikely that it will prove viable to provide all the images users will need by directly JISC "managed"; either funded or licensed image content
  • Therefore it is crucial that the ever growing populations or suitable image content provided elsewhere are included within the DNER by providing links through a range of fusion services
  • This does not exclude the idea of subject services e.g. RDN hubs brokering access to a range of resources both within and outside the DNER, but with any time intensive activity efficiency needs to be paramount.
  • One desirable development to enhance user access to the community would be to encourage interoperability between designated image delivery services in the JDIS.
  • An example of this is the ADS’s HEIR; Historic Environment Information Resources (HEIR) Z39.50 gateway, to be launched in Autumn 2000. The Phase 1 partners comprise SCRAN, the DCMS Portable Antiquities Programme, and the RCAHMS. Both SCRAN and the Portable Antiquities Programme host rich collections of on-line images. (ADS is also building up image collections)
  • Within the scope of JDIS specific interoperability projects could be funded in order to provide a means of scoping this kind of activity as a long term strategy to provide enhanced access to image collections.
  • When considering scoping any new interoperability projects it is important to recognise that any cross-searching or fusion environment offers considerable challenges both in making semantic mappings and providing appropriate technical implementations of this work. It seems unlikely that any new technical solutions will alter the problems inherent in mapping diverse content. Though any that do offer solutions in this area would of course be worth pursuing.
  • Overall, an identification of priorities in this area needs to be made, and the most cost effective and efficient method of access to the range of image resources positioned both within and outside the DNER needs to be attained. Key recommendations for development of fusion services for still images are available below.

Recommendation 12 (a – d)

a) There is a clear need to prioritise work to enhance images access considering the need for both centrally managed and image content external to JDIS; look at solutions considering the current service environment

Collections level access to images

b) Collection level access to both internally managed and external image collections is a clear goal of the JDIS development.

Item level interoperable image access

The current DNER Vision document and DNER development plans both indicate the need for media specific portals. An image portal could provide the central point for cross searching of all collections managed within the JDIS. The image portal could also potentially expand to include collections external to the DNER.


  • The proposed portal would enable users to search for a particular image as well as an image collection. This would allow them to gain remote access to the wide range of image resources that the JDIS will provide.
  • Once this functionality has been developed it can be deployed in a variety of ways and can be extended to offer a variety of navigation features by theme, interest group, curriculum or subject area for example
  • It can provide a key part of the DNER fusion layer and be thus fused with a range of other content

d) For these reasons it is recommended that work goes ahead to develop a formal ITT for an Image Portal offering item level interoperability, following resolution of the following key points

  • Should the provision of collection level records be provided by the item level image portal or is there a strong argument for keeping these separate, given on going work in this area, and the development of the Collections Directory areas of the DNER website?
  • A reasonable strategy would seem to be that the principal Data Centre host for image content as above should also become responsible for developing the image portal. It would therefore be possible to combine these two ITT’s.
  • Costs are directly dependent upon the related costs of the JDIS image hosts with whom the portal would interact
  • It is important to take account when scoping such a portal of precedents for this kind of activity and where it may be possible to build on other existing platforms, for example the ELISE image portal could be developed to provide an rapidly operational service. An appropriate strategy would be for any ITT to recommend how this work would be built on and how relevant technical expertise would be deployed.
  • It is important to take into account alternative methods for disclosing image metadata within the DNER. For example plans for DNER development have indicated that experiments with the Open Archives Initiative framework for disclosing image metadata would be useful in the still image area.


  • Currently there are various activities taking place which directly or indirectly promote image resources to end users and provide targeted training and awareness raising activities
  • These activities are taking place by those who directly host image data. e.g .image delivery agencies as well as well as those who provide training as part of their broader remit. For example the services provided by TASI have been extended within their remit as a full JISC service to provide guidance on use of images. Furthermore there is the expectation that other agencies who have an investment in the use of digital resources in teaching and learning contexts, such as the LTSN, have the potential to provide training for the subject areas they represent.
  • Two targeted projects were also funded under RFP to enhance JISC Services for learning and teaching, which look at specifically promoting images to subject communities. These are; a project to promote the Bristol Biomedical Archive (BLT), and one to promote the VADS image collections (PICTIVA).
  • There does not seem to be an urgent need to rationalise these activities. However while a number of activities are taking place, there is the potential to increase their impact through close interworking and developing joint strategies in this area.
  • One essential component of strategy in this area is however, to recognise the importance of work to promote resources to end users and the need for continued investment in this area if JDIS and DNER resources are to be actively used. This area could also clearly benefit from the foundation of an "expert pool of community representatives" as described in the Collections Identification and Development section, 2.1

Recommendation 13 (a – d)

a) Achievement of closer interworking in this area

In order to increase the impact of JISC funded work taking place in this area, a forum for stakeholders in image use, convened by TASI or others could look at a joint strategy and workplan for a closer co-ordination of activities in this area. Strategies for collaboration with the RDN and other subject based communities could also be identified and acted on here. This work could take place in the context of the JDIS Service Providers Meetings Recommended at Section 4.3

b) Research into image use

The research into image use which was a key recommendation in Section 2.2 to directly inform collections development. This work is also essential if we are to develop effective promotion of image collections to end users.

c) Extension of model to promote use of image content

As is mentioned above, two specific DNER development projects are currently in train to promote image usage in the visual arts, and biomedical sciences. One outcome of evaluating these projects impact should be to ascertain whether they have provided models for promoting use which can be extended to other subject areas in the JDIS. The success of this work will therefore help scope targeted investment in this area

There is also the need to consider the promotion of investments that have currently been made in licencing new image content for the DNER within the broader context of the JDIS.

d) Promoting use and re-deployment of licenced image collections, using the SCRAN Resource Base as a starting point, and test bed for future work

The specific example relevant here is the SCRAN Resource Base which has been licenced for higher and further education use for the next five years. The proposal for the licensing of SCRAN which was endorsed by the Content Working Group contained the recommendation that further work would need to take place to improve the usability of SCRAN for the HE community. This would potentially involve a series of aids to navigation, case studies and learning and teaching materials to support use. This would build on the work undertaken by SCRAN to produce resource packs for schools.

It is also important to note that SCRAN is also the first multimedia resource licensed for Further Education use. Given the high level of interest in learning materials for FE, SCRAN also seems like an ideal opportunity to make an investment in the re-deployment of content for this audience. It is also anticipated that the creation of such materials would be a useful learning experience for all concerned, as it would give significant information about the kind of work needed to promote the use of image content for both the HE and FE sectors.


Dedicated funding streams for digital preservation activities/services have, like many JISC activities, evolved in a fairly organic manner.

  • The AHDS was funded with the recognition that it would play an essential role in preserving the endangered "intellectual record" created by higher education. It would also extend its preservation activities to data created outside the HE community but essential to the continuation of its research, teaching and learning activities.
  • More recently, activity surrounding the DNER Preservation Focus has been concerned to identify gaps in the JISC Preservation strategy and to convene a national consortium to look at how these needs can be provided for.
  • Because of this evolution, at the point of content delivery, a definite preservation strategy is only in place within the AHDS. Currently the JISC Data Centres and Mirror Service for example have no defined commitment to the long term preservation of their holdings.
  • Similarly although some national licensing arrangements for content have been struck by the JISC on the basis of perpetual access; there is no preservation strategy in place for the stage at which the content host elapses responsibility.
  • As a result of this somewhat fragmented picture which is equally true of the image area, as others, steps evidently need to be taken to:
    a) Evolve a coherent digital preservation strategy which JISC Services and also those who wish to contribute as providers to the DNER must follow.

b) Put in place digital preservation facilities which JISC Services and content provision agencies can access

It is recognised that third party providers, e.g. SCRAN here, may have alternative arrangements in place for preservation. If these arrangements are up JISC standards as they are formulated, there would be no reason to duplicate these activities.
It is recognised that these developments will be lead by the DNER Preservation Focus, however it has been a useful exercise to use the image area as a basis for exploring the ramification of preservation activities and gaps.

Recommendation 14

Lead by the Preservation Focus and informed by the Collections Manager for Multimedia the following activities will need to take place in order to ensure the long term accessibility of the image resource in JDIS;

  • Undertake risk analysis of current image JDIS holdings
  • Scope the specific technical challenges concerned with preservation strategies for digital images
  • Implement an appropriate preservation strategy to support current and future JDIS collections
Management & Accountability Structure
  • The issue of the management and accountability structure for the JDIS was referred for consideration by the DNER team at by the CWG.
  • As a result of these discussions the following structures are recommended, which are also aligned with emerging management and accountability arrangements for the Moving Picture and Sound area.
  • The overall structure is represented in the diagram above.
  • It is recognised that the final management schema for the JDIS area as well as others will need to be aligned with any recommendations from the DNER Service Governance Review as proposed.

Recommendation 15 (a - c)

Images Steering Group

a) Set in place a Images Steering Group with the following remit


The Images Steering Group will help to steer the activities of the Collections Manager for Multimedia in the still image area in setting policy for the JDIS and the JDIS services in responding to this policy.
It will also help to provide momentum for the JDIS development and take some devolved responsibility for the resolution of some of the complex issues which the JDIS development raises.
Specific terms of reference will be created. However it should be noted that;

a) it would be useful for the group to have a formal relationship with the image cluster steering group for the 5/99 learning and teaching projects, and that the groups should share membership and meeting dates and venues as far as possible.
b) The group will also be well placed to take a lead in developing policy for the prioritisation of image collections development for the JDIS

  • It will provide the direct input of suitably qualified members of the HE and FE community in steering the JDIS development.
  • Cross membership with members of relevant JISC committees is recommended
  • Steering group members will consist of a combination of "experts" in digital image issues and "non-experts" who are close to teaching, learning and research and will allow broader consultation regarding the JDIS development to take place more effectively

Reporting Lines

Like the Moving Picture and Sound Working Group it is recommended that the Images Steering Group report to both the Collections Working Group and the Service Development Group as its activities straddle both areas.
It is not envisaged that it will report directly to JCEI.

JDIS Service Providers Meetings

b) Set in train JDIS Service Providers Meetings with the following functions

Overall function

Much of the activity in the JDIS environment relies on close collaboration between services to achieve the lifecycle stage goals as has been demonstrated. The management schema above needs to be such that it enables and provides mechanisms for this interworking to take place.

See Section 3.4. Securing Support among JDIS stakeholders.

It is therefore recommended that staff of JDIS Services are required to meet at least bi-annually to discuss areas of mutual interest. Furthermore JDIS services are encouraged to form working groups to address specific developmental areas arising from the evolution of the distributed service environment.

The working groups will also provide a means of positive engagement for the service providers to JDIS, and provide a means of acknowledging and channeling existing expertise appropriately.

Reporting Lines

The Images Steering Group would receive meeting reports and any deliverables produced which would then be fed into JDIS policy and brought to the attention of other staff and committees as needed.


The administration of such groups would ideally be undertaken by an elected JDIS service provider rather than by the DNER Programme Office. The Secretariat would not be asked to support these groups. Consideration would need to be given to re-numerating services in hosting such meetings accordingly.

Specific Remit

It is anticipated that collaborative activity would focus on the following areas

  • Image Creation standards and issues
  • Delivery and access issues and standards
  • Promoting and developing image use
  • It is anticipated that these groups would prove far more useful if they are given specific work to perform in order to support these areas rather than just providing a forum for general discussion.

Developing Remit

A watching brief would be taken over the activities of these groups, which are of necessity responsive to current technical, standards and content developments in the still image area.

Securing Support Among JDIS Stakeholders

c) In order to secure on-going support for the JDIS development it is recommended that the following principles and activities for securing support should be recognised;


It should be emphasised that this policy document is in itself a response to the process of consultation which took place with the stakeholders.

Such consultation processes are clearly a key component of effective communication and to directly inform service development.

Formalisation of Roles

d) This document recommends ways in which the relationship between JISC Services and the JDIS can be formalised. It is recommended that these formal roles are written in to SLD’s for the MAU with relevant services as appropriate.

Mechanisms for Formal Involvement

Without any mechanisms for interworking, JDIS will remain a firmly notional concept and will not develop with a sense of dynamism and common purpose. Therefore regular meetings between JDIS Services as in 4.3 are recommended.

Financial Renumeration

JISC services do not in general have extra revenue to divert toward new activities. This is because their remit and SLD are tied closely to budgetary considerations. An operational JDIS will inevitably involve some additional expenditure on the part of the services in terms of time/human resources for travel, dissemination and other activities. It seems reasonable for these kind of expenses to be recognised and recompensed, if we are to expect services to respond positively and constructively over an extended period. It is recommended that services are renumerated for specific involvement in JDIS activities, and where appropriate new work is specifically commissioned. Obviously such investment will recognise what is and is not reasonable to achieve within existing funding and where natural complementarity which other activities may exist.

Particular areas of consideration are:

i) Refunding expenses for attending/hosting meetings

ii) Financial recognition for services rendered to the JDIS which are above and beyond their
current resourcing. e.g. mounting data, organizing special events or training related to the JDIS, conducting user surveys and other specific consultation or evaluation exercises.

4. The developing JDIS concept of the 'user'

The explanation of the JDIS Service Environment in Section 3. is mainly orientated by the concept of services to end users of digital images and the agencies and processes in place to facilitate each stage of interaction with the image life cycle. This schema does include image creation advice. However is also recognised that the concept of the JDIS user may evolve so that the services are more primarily orientated to supporting members of the higher and further education communities who generate, manage and develop their own image data.

Generators of image data within the JDIS currently benefit from the range of JISC funded "image services" in the following ways:


  • High quality advice on how to create images
  • High quality advice on how to manage image collections
  • For some subject areas, access to a free at the point of use delivery mechanism and archiving facilities for created image collections (Arts and Humanities only)
  • Advice on how to promote the use of collections

Within the JDIS these range of services to HE and FE owners of image collections could be extended to also include;

  • Archiving and preservation facilities across all subject areas for those creating image resources
  • Repositories could also be developed which provide image submission templates to allow images to be added to existing academic collections
  • Methods could also be developed for increasing access to images by identifying/implementing ways of disclosing image metadata to relevant portals in the DNER
  • Support for the commercial exploitation of image assets
  • This is an evolving aspect of JDIS strategy and is in line with the emerging DNER Vision and the JISC Five Year Strategy concerning the leveraging of community resources.
Communication, Liaison, Training and Dissemination

Overall communications strategy

It is recognised that the overall DNER Communications Strategy will help define the JDIS strategy in this area
The DNER Communications Strategy will also help to categorise the communities within the JDIS user base and the specific strategies and how it will be most appropriate to communicate with these groupings
Recommendation 16 (a – b)

a) It is essential to articulate and disseminate the overall JDIS strategy to JDIS service providers, other stakeholders and members of relevant initiatives in the image area in a global context

b) It is not generally appropriate to communicate the JDIS to end users on the basis of its overall strategic framework; end users will be more concerned with the core aspects of the image service on offer;

e.g. How to create, manage and sustain image collections

Access to images for use in teaching, learning and research

How to use and embed images in teaching and learning environments

In essence; Creating and Managing, Access, Use

A policy for disseminating these services to end users and the appropriate branding of relevant JDIS services to end users will be implemented within the over all DNER branding strategy for content and service provision.

Liaison Strategy

This section will in future contain an articulation of the key non JISC-funded stakeholding groups with which the Collections Manager for Multimedia and JDIS Steering Group will communicate with in order to ensure effective liaison.
These will include national and relevant international initiatives in the spirit of mutual collaboration, standards for development, and the provision of access to image content for educational purposes

Dissemination and Training Activities for JDIS Service Providers

As was explained in Sections 4.3 and 4.4, JDIS Services will be encouraged to work together in a fairly informal manner in order the assist in the development of interworking and to take forward a targeted research and standards development for the JDIS in order to ensure a fully co-ordinated approach.

Recommendation 17

To give some initial momentum to this process, is it recommended that some dedicated kick-off events are organised by the DNER team.

  • There are persuasive arguments for organising a digital image concertation day and expert workshop event; this will bring together JDIS stakeholders, experts in the imaging area, image users and collection owners to share experiences, reflect on technical and standards development and scope future work.
  • A similar workshop was organised by Jane Williams of the IRLT in 1998 which examined the "state of the art" within HE image service provision, where gaps existed, and made plans for future development. This was a highly successful event which produced a report reflecting on this process.
  • Such a workshop would directly help to inform the JDIS development and help mould the JDIS implementation plans, ensuring that:

i) The JDIS Services are fully up to date with appropriate theory, standards and technical developments

ii) JDIS services are in touch with developments in the relevant communities of image creators and users.

iii) It could flag up training and development opportunities for staff at JDIS services

NB An awareness raising event at the DRH conference has already taken place in active collaboration with some JDIS stakeholders, and was intended to promote the service to both stakeholders and end users.

A formal launch of the JDIS as originally envisaged may now be more appropriate given that policy in this area and the roles of JISC funded services are now more well defined. However this needs to be developed with reference to the timing of the overall launch of the re-expressed DNER, and the Communications Strategy that underpins it.

Observations on Sustainability Issues and Business Models

The most up to date information concerning the extent to which JISC has to date invested in image based services, image content and other research activities related to the digital image is contained within this document. This work therefore intends to establish a stable point of reference in order to undertake a plan of targeted and strategic investment in this area.

Within the framework of the re-articulation of the DNER and its related development programme there is also a clear opportunity for the JDIS structure to integrate funding streams and policy areas within this context in a closer way.

Short Term Investment Implications are

  • Pump Priming Image Content Provision
  • Service Development;
  • Integration and remounting of existing image content within the JDIS and DNER

Technical and standards development activities to support the JDIS infrastructure

Investment in dissemination, liaison, training and management and accountability structures

Repurposing and packaging of existing content particularly given the demand for FE Learning Materials.

For the future it should be noted that:

  • Appropriate business models for image content acquisition, delivery, management and exploitation, and preservation will need to be developed as part of a sustainable service
  • Not enough is understood about the economic models driving the aggregation and development of both commercial and public sector digital image libraries and publishers.
  • It is important the JDIS keeps a watchful eye on these developments, so that they can inform future developments but also as a key point of liaison for an articulation of the HE and FE market place, and in the spirit of mutual collaboration on standards and other technical developments.
Appendix 1: Stakeholder Consultations

Encouraging collaboration between JISC funded services and their active engagement with the JDIS is clearly a key to the success of the initiative. The initial scoping document therefore contained the recommendation that all JISC services with a stake in JDIS should be interviewed to take into account their preferred roles in the evolving service environment. The consultation process took place between May and September 2000 through a series of one to one interviews with the Image Co-ordinator (Collections Manager for Multimedia).

As well as informing the JDIS service development as has been documented in Section 2. and Section 3., this process provided a useful insight into a number of issues that are broader than the JDIS development. In particular, views of potential for collaboration with other services and role within the DNER, current state of development, and areas where change or formalisation of roles would be welcomed.

Issues concerning how Services can be encouraged to work together closely within the context of the JDIS have been expanded on in Section 2. where the service environment is closely examined and in Section 3. where a suitable management and accountability structure is recommended.

This section is mainly intended to report on the findings of the consultation rather than to make positive recommendations for JDIS Service Development. These Recommendations are made in Section 2.

However it has not been possible to restrict all references to overarching strategic discussions and decisions making processes as they were an integral part of the consultation process. Therefore this Section also contains a some specific Recommendations.

Summary of Findings

The main findings of the consultation process were:

  • Some services had a clearer idea than others about how they might fit within the JDIS and differing levels of knowledge and interest in the digital image area
  • All agreed that the definition of what distinguishes an "image" for the purposes of JDIS was a complex issue, but in general supported the working definition proposed in 1.5
  • All welcomed JDIS as a positive development and felt that this increased level of co-ordination was key to the development of image provision within the DNER
  • Services would welcome a formalisation of their roles within the JDIS environment and the DNER in general
  • Services welcome a increased level of collaboration but only if this has tangible goals in mind, and serves practical ends which support current or revised future remits
  • Services welcome the idea of a forum for discussion of common issues to support the development and augmentation of the distributed service environment
  • Data Centres/Delivery services would welcome a rational distribution of responsibilities to allow collaboration rather than competition to direct the delivery of images (and other resources for the DNER)
  • JISC funded of supported image archives were keen to gain further support from the JISC for the development of their archive and sustainability of their platform. Failing this a suitable exit strategy was obviously seen as crucial.
Appendix 2: Inventory of JISC funded Image Content



Delivery Point

African and Asian visual Arts Archive



Bretton Hall (Basic Design, and Halliwell Collection)



British Geological Survey


BGS and JISC Data Centre

Central St Martins College of Art & Design Museum Collection



Design Council Archive



Design Council Slide Collection



Derby Earth Sciences (3d)

approx 50 (??)

University of Derby and JISC Data Centre

Fawcett Library, Suffragette Banners



Gertrude Bell Collection


University of Newcastle and JISC Data Centre

John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (soap and political prints)



London College of Fashion Archive



Magee Collection


University of Ulster and JISC Data Centre

Spellman Collection of Illustrated Victorian Music Covers









  • AHDS



Delivery point

Various at ADS, PADS and VADS.

50,000 images approx (not including JIDI at VADS scoped above)

AHDS service providers catalogues (and gateway)

  • Bristol Biomedical Archive



Delivery point

Bristol Biomedical Archive

10,300 images

ILRT, University of Bristol




Delivery point

Derweb Image Library


Formerly University of Sheffield, now




Delivery Point

National Art Slide Library



St Andrews University Library



Hulton Getty Picture Collection



Social and Political History of Great Britain Collection









  • AXIS

    The AXIS web development was financially assisted by funds from JCEI. Although these are not JISC images per se: it is worth noting that AXIS currently holds images as below



Delivery point


Could not ascertain

AXIS is independent but is hosted by LMU

  • JISC 5/99 (new image content)

Some successful bids under 5/99 will result in the creation of new image content



Delivery point

Textile Collection



Crafts Study Centre









Design Council Archive



Biota of Early Terrestrial Eco Systems


Data Centre

Rynie Chert


Data Centre

  • Licenced image content



Delivery Point







  • NFF



Delivery Point

Oxford University



Broadside Ballads Project


Bodliean Library

Celtic Manuscripts Project

80,000 pages total aim. No further info.currently.

Bodliean Library

Cambridge University



Genizah OnLine Database (GOLD)


Cambridge University Library

Cambridge University Library MS Ee.3.59: A life of King Edward the Confessor

37 folios and a total of 64 images.

Cambridge University Library

Sudan Archive

TASI website suggest 34,000 (couldn’t find resource on-line)

University of Durham

University of Aberdeen



Aberdeen Bestiary

Entire manuscript digitised (103 folios)

University of Aberdeen Library

MacBean Stuart and Jacobite collection

1,300 loose engravings and woodcuts

University of Aberdeen Library

Papers of Thomas Reid

800 items (but definitely text based)

Aberdeen University Library

Burnet Psalter

322 folios

Aberdeen University Library







Estimated overall TOTAL of JISC/HEFCE images: 500,000

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