background image
he data capture and Web publishing
systems are built from off-the-shelf
modules, but their speed and capacity are
far from run of the mill. Storage is on a
robot-served LTO Ultrium-1 tape library -
the largest tape library made by Hewlett-
Packard and which, with a tape access time
of less than ten seconds, is one of the
fastest available.This connects to state-of-
the-art Web servers via a 2Gb/s optical
network.The whole system is highly
robust and, for added long-term security,
makes use of double UPS, doubly redun-
dant disk arrays and multiple servers.
T Systems Manager, Rob Curtis, says:
"The durability of the system, and the
back-ups we have in place are a crucial
part of the project. After all, ARKive will
be storing some of the most valuable
wildlife footage on the planet and we have
to be sure we can keep it safe for many,
many years to come."The value of the
project - to wildlife conservation and edu-
cation, and to film and television history -
has won widespread support for ARKive
from many quarters, including the BBC,
Discovery Channels International, Granada
Television, National Geographic, BirdLife
International, Fauna and Flora
International, the United Nations
Environment Programme,World
Conservation Monitoring Centre, the
World Conservation Union (IUCN), and
the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
he information is arranged in two
chapters. Chapter One is dedicated to
British animals, plants and fungi - from the
familiar to the rare and obscure. Chapter
Two, for globally endangered species, is
only just beginning but currently covers
250 representative examples from the
IUCN's Red Lists.
ach portrait comprises video footage
and stills photographs, backed by
authenticated fact-files about the lifeform's
or inspiration,
the team turned
to the dodo - the
flightless bird hunt-
ed to extinction
more than 200 years
ago. Current knowl-
edge of it comes
from drawings,
observer notes, the
diaries of sailors,
and a handful of
preserved remains.
But none of the
records reveals what
the song of the dodo was like.Therefore it
was agreed the profiles needed to feature
sounds as well as visuals wherever possible,
along with factuality illustrating appear-
ance, movement, feeding habits, social
behaviour, mating, threats, special adapta-
tions and interactions with other species,
including humans.
inding the pictures that matched the
checklist was the next challenge. Chief
media researcher, Richard Edwards, esti-
mates he and his colleagues viewed and
logged more than 12,000 slides to select
the 5000 on the Website at launch, and
watched over 2000 hours of videotape.
ompiling the records was only part of
the story. Next, data had to be edited,
copied and stored - and in such a way that
it could be readily indexed, cross-refer-
enced and retrieved, and cope with future
changes of technology.
t ARKive's heart is a vast storage
infrastructure linked to the latest
optical networking running at 2Gb/s.
It can store and access up to 74 Terabytes
of data - roughly the same capacity as
fifty million floppy disks - and can output
moving footage in a range of formats,
from dial-up modem-sized videos to
broadcast quality clips for professional
TV production.
aving designed a way to tag the data,
the project needed a Digital Asset
Management (DAM) and workflow appli-
cation. HP Labs, having investigated the
DAM and workflow markets, undertook a
major development project to build an
accessioning system for ARKive as part of
their $2 million donation of technical pro-
fessional services.Videotapes and slides
move in and out of the building regularly.
These pieces of media are in many cases
irreplaceable should they be damaged, so it
is essential to have a robust and reliable
system in place.
racking down the records on the site
at present has been made easier by
the unprecedented levels of co-operation
the ARKive team has encountered from
record-holders. Most of the world's leading
broadcasters, picture libraries, conservation
bodies and academic institutions have set
aside their initial legitimate concerns about
rivalry and copyright protection to share
information. Donations have also come
from many individual camera operators,
scientists and amateur nature observers.
Once the records began to come in, a key
challenge for ARKive's researchers was to
decide on the essential ingredients of each
multimedia profile.What - they had to ask
- would people a century or more from
now want to know about a species that
might no longer exist?
Last known individual thylacine. Moving images available from ARKive:
Zoological Society of London
2003 www