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Successful Small Data Project: Lowlands Coring Database Utrecht University
2 September 2019
In 2017 Kim Cohen, Utrecht University, received a Small Data Project-grant (dutch: KDP-subsidie) for the project Lowlands Coring Database Utrecht University. Between 1959 and 1990, the Lowlands Coring Database of coring descriptions was created of the Rhine-Meuse delta. Thanks to the KDP grant, part of the analogue archives could be digitised.
The grant was provided by DANS for digitizing legacy data: an archive of paper research data. Data of manual coring of the Dutch river area from the 70s and 80s were divided into smaller sub-archives by dr. Cohen. In addition to scanning the analogue materials, the research data had to be entered into a database as well. Furthermore, the files had to be converted to a contemporary file format. Analogue maps were scanned and subsequently georeferenced.
The relocation of the Faculty of Geosciences put pressure on the digitisation of the paper archives. Due to an article in a DANS newsletter, dr. Cohen was aware of the possibilities of a KDP-grant. Thanks to the timing of the application, the faculty decided to double the amount of the grant. The upcoming ‘Key register Subsoil’ (dutch: Basisregistratie Ondergrond, BRO) provided the necessary momentum for similar initiatives. The BRO Act obliges parties to consult the national database of coring descriptions set up by the BRO in case of spatial interventions.
Data sharing is important for transparency in regard to the origin of data. In addition, cost efficiency is an important aspect of data sharing. Data does not have to be collected again by different parties. Dr. Cohen also mentions the sustainable aspect of reusing data: “Data collected in the past is not always easy to collect again. Areas were once agricultural and accessible, while they have been developed into residential areas and therefore increasingly difficult to access.” The KDP grant provided financial support to make a useful addition to a long-term digitisation process.