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CETAF ISTC Stable Identifier Initiative

The Stable Identifiers of the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) are globally unique, consistent and reliable identifiers for specimens in natural and botanical collections. These identifiers are used in the world wide web to redirect users and systems to images, websites and metadata of the physical objects and to integrate them with the semantic web.

Example for the syntax of a CETAF Stable Identifier.

How do CETAF Stable Identifier look like?

The CETAF identifier system is based on HTTP-URIs and Linked Data principles. It is simple and future-proof. Each collection object as well as its associated information resources (e.g. multimedia, RDF, webpages) are identified by stable HTTP-URIs that will never change. The URI Syntax for the objects is chosen and maintained by the institution owning them. This flexibility is one of the main advantages of the CETAF Stable Identifier system as it allows e.g. to include branding and local scope identifiers into the CETAF Stable Identifier URI. There are however some best practices for stable URIs. Examples are:

Resolving URI-based collection identifiers using standard HTTP-redirection mechanisms.

How are CETAF Stable Identifiers resolved?

A CETAF Stable Identifier allows the access of information about the corresponding collection object in various ways. If a human user tries to access a collection object by typing it’s CETAF Stable Identifier into a web-browser, he will be redirected to a human-readable representation (e.g. html web-page) of it. If a software-system tries to access the collection object via the same identifier, it will be redirected to a machine-processable RDF-encoded metadata record. The identifier is therefore integrated with the semantic web and can also be used in other RDF representations to link to the belonging collection object.

What can CETAF Stable Identifiers be used for?

As described above, CETAF Identifiers can first of all be used to redirect users and systems to images, websites and metadata of the physical objects they belong to. They can also be used to precisely reference specimens needed in scientific studies and serve as basis for data retrieval, integration and reproducibility of data experiments. Additionally, the stable identifiers enable new applications in the semantic web domain. An example for this is the Biology Pilot. The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Meise Botanic Garden and other collections annotated thousands of specimens with the HUH and WikiData IDs of their collectors. The CETAF Stable Identifiers of the annotated specimens are available on GBIF and a server is crawling the identifiers to organize the RDF information in a Blaze Graph triple store. This graph enables us to search for specimen by their collector ID of HUH or WikiData, which is invariant to the different spelling variants the individual institutions may be using. The query will return all relevant specimens available in the joined set of specimens regardless of their origin institution. If the number of institutions using stable identifiers grows and the amount of machine readable annotations increases, this technology could be used to basically create a “google for specimens”.

Documentation and Handbook for CETAF Identifiers

Please read User:Andreas Plank/CETAF Stable Identifier Handbook

Useful Links

Further reading