Details of ENBI (the European Network for Biodiversity Information), with 66 members in 24 countries, are given by Los and Hof in Chapter 2 . The relationship of ENBI to the data access projects lies in its core objective of cementing the strong European database network that has been emerging over many years and exploring ways to sustain it In practical terms, among many other tasks, it will increase further the number of specimen databases linked to the BioCASE system In its capacity as representing the European contribution to the GBIF, ENBI has an implicit sustaining role for the achievements of BioCISE, ENHSIN and BioCASE
ENBI is a thematic network As with BioCASE and ENHSIN, it is established within the EU's Framework Programme 5 . It is encouraging that the European Commission has recognized, through its funding initiatives, the value of providing transnational access to what Malacarne (2002) has described as one of 'a selected group of outstanding research infrastructures'
Interaction between specialist users within European institutions has been a way of life since the time of Linnaeus, when travel remained difficult and computers unimagined But interactions alone do not create infrastructures, and it is only recently that there has been a determined attempt to build an integrated system Further success for collections infrastructures has come about through the SYNTHESYS project , a consortium of 19 European natural history museums and botanic gardens
SYNTHESYS is funded as an Integrated Infrastructure Initiative within the EU's Framework Programme 6 and led by the Natural History Museum, London . One of the two major components of the project is to enable researchers to gain physical access to earth-and life science collections, facilities and expertise at 19 European institutions . The second, termed 'networking activities', is intended to create a virtual museum service and introduce further innovations to the distributed network of European collection databases
Resources will enable the continuation of BioCASE activities until the end of 2008, well beyond the formal conclusion of that project in January 2005. Among these are a help-desk function for data providers to assist in the installation and maintenance of database wrappers; tools to improve databases structurally and with respect to data standardization and quality; means to identify duplicate specimens on the network as a means to speed up data entry; further development of the modular user interface; standardization issues; and techniques for data quality assessment and improvement
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