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Jisc support for equipment and asset sharing

Position paper to describe our vision for supporting equipment and asset sharing across the sector

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Jisc support for equipment and asset sharing

  1. 1. Jisc Support for equipment and asset sharing 1 Jisc Support for equipment and asset sharing Sir Ian Diamond’s 2015 report to Universities UK identified the need to accelerate asset sharing and to quantify the efficiency gains from this process. Jisc is supporting this work through our investment (with EPSRC) in the national equipment.data portal (a “one stop shop” to find publicly-funded equipment) and the institutional Kit- Catalogue equipment recording system. Jisc has also brokered a national agreement on provision of High Performance Computing (HPC) services, which reduces the friction of sharing supercomputing systems between institutions and with industry. We are keen to work with the community to understand how this work can best be taken forward to help achieve efficiencies and improve research productivity. The vision Jisc is exploring further opportunities around sharing equipment, facilities and assets to help universities and research institutions explore and exploit efficiencies in this area. Our vision is to work with the sector to develop services and standards that: » are interoperable and easy to access » help to streamline the equipment sharing process » embed asset sharing in institutional and research workflows » help the sector to evidence the progress it is making through asset sharing Institutional workflow With input from the equipment.data team at the University of Southampton and the Kit-Catalogue team at Loughborough University, we have mapped a rough representation of the institutional process for procuring, recording and sharing equipment. We have identified an initial set of resources available to institutions at each stage (locally or shared) and have highlighted in the infographic below the initiatives that Jisc is directly supporting within this workflow. We would expect that within each institution the process may be different and there will be more actors and departments involved. If you have a different experience within your institution, or would like to understand how you can make use of the suggested resources, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
  2. 2. Jisc Support for equipment and asset sharing 2 An institution collects data around its kit via the procurement or purchase to pay system. A researcher or research support staff normally enters a purchase order, which is processed by the finance office within the procurement system. The equipment details are then added to the general ledger, which is subsequently archived in the capital asset register (e.g. Agresso, SAP, Great Plains, etc.). An institution can publish or transfer the equipment database on their Current Research Information Systems (CRIS), if it has an equipment module (e.g. Pure, Simplectic, etc.). The transfer will often take place via an appropriate programme, such as BizTalk. Alternatively, an institution can publish the equipment database on a bespoke database (e.g. Kit-Catalogue, a locally developed and UNIQUIP compliant system, or a manually managed UNIQUIP spreadsheet). The published data is automatically harvested from any of the three systems (capital asset register, CRIS, bespoke database) and aggregated into the equipment.data portal. Support available from Jisc Equipment.data is an aggregation portal that automatically discovers and harvests data from ac.uk domains about equipment and facilities that have been funded by public money. The portal offers an easy search interface for any user to find equipment and facilities across UK institutions, currently at more than 10,000 pieces of equipment from 42 institutions. These are typically high value capital items, costing £20k or more, hence at the most conservative estimate equipment.data is making the details of over £200m worth of equipment available for sharing. The data is also available via an API for integration with brokerage services/platforms like those developed by Innovate UK and NCUB. Equipment.data was developed by the University of Southampton with funding from EPSRC and oversight from Jisc, RCUK and BUFDG. We are now exploring the business case for equipment.data as a Jisc service, a transition period funded jointly by Jisc and EPSRC.
  3. 3. Jisc Support for equipment and asset sharing 3 Kit Catalogue is an open source database package that can help organisations effectively catalogue, record and locate their kit – such as laboratory equipment, workshop machines and ICT tools, and feeds into equipment.data via the UNIQUIP standard. Kit-Catalogue development at Loughborough University has been supported by EPSRC and Jisc, and the software won an S-Lab award in 2012. Newcastle University alone is cataloguing and sharing the details of over £14m of equipment worth £20k or more using Kit-Catalogue. We are currently piloting Kit-Catalogue with ten institutions as a potential Jisc service. Jisc has also developed a standardised HPC service agreement in collaboration with HPC Midlands, and is piloting industrial connectivity to the Janet network. This facilitates sharing of £60m worth of UK HPC expertise and facilities between institutions and with industry. We are currently working with four HPC providers: STFC DiRAC, HPC Midlands, HPC Wales and N8 HPC. We were delighted to be able to announce in July 2015 that Rolls Royce would be connecting to Janet to use the HPC Midlands facility through our HPC agreement. Jisc supports the use and development of two important standards in this area: UNIQUIP and Organisational Profile Document (OPD). UNIQUIP is a standard for the description of research facilities and equipment which is at the foundation of equipment.data and the Kit-Catalogue. We will seek to support its sustainability, development and take up via the CASRAI process. The OPD is an RDF document that contains information such as logo, full name, dataset location and contact information for the equipment dataset, and other standard fields. While embedded in an organisation’s homepage header, the document is auto-discoverable and allows platforms like equipment.data to automatically pick up on relevant links, such as the location of the equipment dataset. There are 28 HEIs and research institutes that have an auto-discoverable OPD, here is what the University of Southampton OPD looks like. What else can Jisc do to help? We are looking at the business case for Jisc providing further support for asset sharing and have outlined some potential ideas below and in the diagram on the following page. We would welcome your thoughts on these and any other developments that you feel could add value, increase operating efficiency or productivity: » A sector level special interest group on equipment sharing. » A cloud hosted Kit-Catalogue service as an option for hosting institutional equipment data locally. » A national equipment platform as a service aggregating facilities and equipment data from institutional databases and other systems. » A platform for transaction support, such as a “buy now” button in the equipment database, and the associated technical underpinnings that would make it easier for institutions to offer “lab tests as a service”. » Exploring the potential of Jisc’s VAT cost sharing group to reduce the friction of sharing – our cost sharing group is the largest in the UK, with over 250 institutional members. » A standardised contractual environment for asset sharing of all types of equipment and the expertise required to exploit them, building on Jisc’s HPC agreement and the Brunswick Agreements.
  4. 4. Jisc Support for equipment and asset sharing 4 » Helping researchers to find shared equipment that could be used in grant proposal submissions, e.g. perhaps through integrating equipment data with Je-S. » Helping institutions to report back on the extent of their equipment sharing, e.g. through data harvesting from lab management systems. » Analytics and reporting on equipment available, use and sharing. » Developing connections between research data and equipment information in order to support research productivity and re-use. » Developing connections between HEIs and industry by contributing to existing brokerage tools developed by NCUB and Innovate UK. Find out more: You can find out more about Jisc’s R&D project to accelerate and embed equipment sharing from our web page on equipment sharing made easy. Get involved: If you use social media, you can follow developments with equipment.data and Kit-Catalogue via the Twitter handle @equipmentacuk and the hashtag #kitcatalogue. Jisc contacts: Rachel Bruce, deputy chief innovation officer, rachel.bruce@jisc.ac.uk Martin Hamilton, futurist, martin.hamilton@jisc.ac.uk Daniela Duca, senior co-design manager, daniela.duca@jisc.ac.uk

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Position paper to describe our vision for supporting equipment and asset sharing across the sector

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