Kit-Catalogue and the Uniquip Project

24 May

I’m managing the Kit-Catalogue™ Project at the moment, which is currently receiving a great deal of interest nationwide.  The Project’s purpose is to promote and support the growing community of UK HE users of the open source Kit-Catalogue™ system.  This online system has been designed and developed to help any Institution organise and manage their equipment and facilities used for teaching and/or research.  So far, Nottingham and Bristol are implementing their own Kit-Catalogue’s™ but many other institutions are taking early steps towards exploring how the system can benefit their organisation.

Loughborough University’s Kit-Catalogue™ can be accessed here at http://equipment.lboro.ac.uk.  So, far there are only a handful of the ~2000 items that are browsable by the public but that number is growing by the day.

Loughborough isn’t the only Institution developing online solutions to help catalogue and  manage their equipment and facilities.  The motivation for Institutions is to maximise usage of existing equipment and lessen duplication, thereby saving money and promoting the green agenda too.  Equipment sharing between departments and research schools is already happening at Loughborough but is growing across the regional group of the ‘Midlands 5’ Institutions (Loughborough, Leicester, Birmingham, Warwick and Nottingham).

In fact, to date the UK’s Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) funding has stimulated a number of projects nationally, delivering a variety of “off the shelf” and bespoke databases offering web-searchable publication or authenticated access to registers of research equipment and facilities in a variety of formats.  The level of activity has prompted initial discussion between Loughborough, Southampton, Leeds and Bath.  As a group we recognise the need to establish commonalities within schema for describing research equipment and facilities, the benefits of a common subject discipline categorisation  (or a common taxonomy) and the potential to present or search against common sets of data aggregated from multiple institutions.

The ‘Uniquip’ (Jul’12 – Jan’13) project, funded by the EPSRC, partners Loughborough (and the Kit-Catalogue™ Project) with Southampton, Leeds and Bath.  Our Institutions also have access to, and representing, our respective regional consortia comprising of 22 universities in England and Wales.  The aim of ‘Uniquip’ is to research and propose guidelines and standards harmonising vocabulary and schema to enable the development of solutions to be used in the cataloguing and publishing of research facilities and equipment at a national level.  A conference is planned in September (18th and 19th) in Southampton with the key-note speaker, Prof Nigel Shadbolt, a leading figure in the open data initiative.

I’ll be blogging on the Uniquip project in the near future, but if you have any questions or are interested in the Kit-Catalogue™ system, please get in touch.

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