Keeping Data Alive Supporting reuse & repurposing of 3D data in the humanities


Continuation of Project, Long Term Impact & Future Directions

The KDA project achieved its goal to develop workflows to: (1) generate, store, and make accessible 3D procedurally-generated models of architecture in a repository that scholars can (re)use and repurpose to create their own multi-scalar reconstructions ranging from individual buildings to entire cityscapes, and (2) host, deliver, and visualize 3D models, linked to metadata, paradata, and descriptive data, in an open source 3D visualization environment.In terms of major impact, we were able to successfully design the infrastructure for an alpha 3D repository that provides a unique, and much needed, function for 3D data in the Humanities. The project's three workflows provide a way to standardize the process (via python scripts) as well as the metadata, and work in conjunction with the customizable repository infrastructure. A key outcome is the ability for the repository to track changes in geometry, metadata, and paradata that are made by users in the 3D Web Viewer and yet keep the original metadata and paradata. This functionality is an important step towards citeablity of 3D models, which will promote 3D model re-use, particularly in academic and research arenas. Additionally, the adoption of the COLLADA file format, which maintains scene information such as lighting and camera orientation (unlike OBJ), makes the project outcomes useful for the burgeoning field of virtual reality (VR).

The Department of Anthropology and the Center of Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)-the grantee institution-are hosting the KDA website and development server. They have committed to long-term maintenance of the website--CDRH maintains many legacy projects. Additionally, CDRH is committed to developing a grant proposal for a Tier II phase of the project, which would focus on replacing the development server with a production server that hosts the repository with 3D models provded by researchers from various institutions and hosts the open source 3D Web Viewer. While the Tier I outcomes provide workflows, scripts, CGA code, and other supplemental materials that offer innovative solutions to preservation and access of 3D procedural models that can have long term impact, future directions for the project would have a longer-lasting and much broader impact on the Humanities.

Looking to the future, the KDA project has created greater awareness about Anthropology, CDRH, and UNL's Love Library as part of an institution actively contributing to 3D data preservation and access in the Humanities. For the next phase, collaborations with institutions such as the Smithsonian and other Universities associated with the growing community of CS3DP are envisaged. The project's use of the European Data Model (EDM)for metadata is unique in the U.S. (yet still works with Dublin Core and other common metadata standards applied in the U.S.) and would provide UNL with a unique opportunity to foster stronger international ties with European instituions researching 3D data preservation and access. Future plans involve strong collaboration with U.S. and international institutions to develop a production-level system. For the next phase of the project, we plan to establish three to four key partners who will agree to implement the KDA 3D repository infrastructure to refine and further standardize the workflows. The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate that many other institutions and organizations can readily adopt and efficiently implement the 3D repository model developed by this project. Importantly, our goal is not to create a single server (or host location) for all 3D procedural models but rather design for a distributed system, or a consortium, with certain libraries, institutions, or organizations hosting multiple 3D repositories that can be linked using open linked data. This idea of creating a consortium and sharing the task of storing and in particular hosting 3D Humanities Data is well-supported at workshops and forums on 3D data preservation and access. This consortium model reduces costs, need for staff expertise at every institute, and can offer possibilities to mirror systems for long-term preservation.

Future work will also develop additional scripts to allow the 3D repository to easily and effectively work with multiple 3D Web Viewers. We have carried out preliminary tests with the ADS 3D Viewer and 3DHOP. In this regard, our long term-vision is to not only establish working proto-types at various international and national institutions but develop "crosswalks" so that the system works with multiple 3D Web Viewers. This interoperability creates flexibility that will foster 3D data reuse and is an important aspect of the projet along with citeability.