building, operating and transforming digital collections using freizo

quick read

freizo is a software platform supported by the Data Futures project which provides long-term accessibility and security for digital methods projects in the humanities. It provides metadata and asset transformation services, contributor workflow development tools and infrastructure management facilities for accession, hosting and export of digital collections.

It can be used for creating or re-delivering digital projects in the humanities, for generating versions of collections in multiple standards-compliant formats and for administering the contribution of extended communities of scholars and contractors. freizo is effective for small exploratory projects but also allows flexible growth—exploiting parallelism efficiently to address growing performance, capacity and fail-over needs of very large collections—while minimizing costs of operation. It is currently in use at multiple European and US institutions and commercial partners and will be available under an open source license during 2018.

more information

freizo is a software platform supported by the Data Futures project which provides long-term accessibility and security for research data and digital methods projects. Its agnostic data representation is designed for efficient migration as technologies evolve over decades, and its scalable deployment is continuously updated in response to the evolving internet technology and security landscapes.

By using geographically distributed computing resources from heterogeneous commercial and institutional suppliers effectively freizo gains high resilience and cost advantages from the competitive international services market. It can also run effectively on institutions' IT resources with appropriate fail-over options. A single freizo infrastructure can support multiple corpora and internet services, and the cluster of virtual or real computers on which it's installed can be expanded flexibly for additional performance and capacity. Basic services and tools already available to client projects include:

  • internet-based accession workflows that can be tailored to projects' specific needs for rapid import and organization of information from both historic projects and legacy platforms as well as new research
  • on-going maintenance and refinement of assets acquired from multiple sources for consolidation in a sustainable environment and the support of multiple presentations to public and scholarly audiences
  • standards-based annotation, interfaces to mainstream virtual research instruments and development of new metadata and analysis functionality
  • transformation tools to automate the generation of versions of corpora that are compliant with specific standards or compatible with external ecosystems
  • comprehensive day-to-day project operation facilities including scholarly, contractor and crowd community support using authenticated user accounts—critical when copyright restrictions or integrity of valuable research data arise, or when project personnel change in temporary workforces
  • fail-over between multiple automatically maintained backup services, preventing data loss and reducing degradation when difficulties are experienced by individual resource providers or when network outages isolate specific data centers or users: automated duplication of project data supports both fault-tolerance and performance scalability

These capabilities create new stability and sustainability mechanisms for research data. By sharing across many projects the costs of i) migration to overcome successive technology obsolescence and ii) continual infrastructure maintenance and software updates for reliability and security, freizo unlocks significant (and for the first time forecast-able) operational cost benefits. It also eliminates serial vulnerability as key personnel move on to new positions and departments are reorganized.