Three scientific organizations dedicated to the preservation and use of biocollections have provided comments to the federal government about digitization of natural history collections as part of ‘big data.’ The letter to the National Coordination Office (NCO) for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development outlines the Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA), an initiative developed by the scientific community that will contribute to and benefit from big data collaborations. The letter responded to a request for information on Big Data high-impact collaborations and areas for expanded collaboration between the public and private sectors.
An excerpt of the letter, signed by the presidents of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, American Institute of Biological Sciences, and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, follows:
“The NIBA is a national scientific, engineering, and data mobilization initiative. When fully realized, NIBA will provide online access to digitized data for biological specimens held in natural history museums, university science departments, and government laboratories across the United States. Scientists have amassed and curated more than one billion specimens in more than 2,500 institutions across the United States. Once digitized, these specimens will represent millions or even billions of data points. These specimens and their associated data are maintained for research and education and to inform wise decisions about the environment, public health, food security, and commerce.”