This source data could be accessed directly by advanced users (such as the TaNC projects and Art UK), but most users would need a front end that allowed them to:

  • search across all the data;
  • select the records they wanted;
  • and either download them for offline use or send them onwards via an API (a piece of software that allows two applications to talk to each other) to any number of further tools and services.

We suggest that this front end could be initiated and maintained by the ‘connect and collect’ service, but developed collaboratively through incremental project-based development (eg research into using AI – artificial intelligence – tools and services to increase the precision of searches across the data). It would not aim to present curated content to the general public, but would be a tool to help anyone developing such content to find and select their raw material.

Beyond that, we also envisage a broad-based ecosystem of further tools and services – both commercial and non-commercial – to help a diverse range of users work with their selected data. Here too, existing initiatives such as TaNC, Art UK and others are likely to develop tools and services that could form part of this ecosystem, with a wide scope for grant-funded collaborations to meet other specific needs. These might include new forms of cross-collection discovery, inter-disciplinary research, crowdsourcing, and linking collections data to other datasets to enable new forms of engagement and analysis.

Crucially, we propose that these tools and services are designed in such a way that enhanced data and new content can be captured for re-use automatically and without any effort on the part of users.