Persistent Identification of Instruments WG


Group details

Secretariat Liaison: 
Lynn Yarmey
TAB Liaison: 
Frankie Stevens
WGs Producing deliverables (~6-12 months after RDA endorsement)

The Persistent Identification of Instruments Working Group seeks to explore a community-driven solution for globally unique identification of active instruments in the sciences.


Instruments, such as sensors used in environmental science, DNA sequencers used in life sciences or laboratory engines used for medical domains, are widespread in most fields of applied sciences. The ability to link an active instrument (instance) with an instrument type and with the broader context in which the instrument operates (including generated data, other instruments and platforms, people and manufacturers, etc.) is critical, especially for automated processing of such contextual information and for the interpretation of generated data.


The identification and description of instrument models and instances is gaining momentum. Several disciplines are using established controlled vocabularies (standardised terms) to identify devices. Advances in Semantic Sensor Web technologies (encodings of sensor descriptions that are machine-readable and interoperable) have resulted in new instrument metadata schemas. Some Persistent Identifiers (PIDs), such as Universally Unique Identifiers (UUIDs) or Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are already being utilised.


Our group aims to build on these developments and establish a cross-discipline, operational solution for the unique and lasting identification of active devices.



  • Explore the use of a globally unique solution to persistently identify active devices
  • Recommend a metadata profile to describe active devices that harmonises existing identification standards and complements existing metadata schemas
  • Explore methodology/technology to register and resolve the new PID
  • Operationalise the solution, engaging instrument developers and manufacturers in the process


Relationship to other RDA interest and working groups

  • PID IG
  • Data Versioning WG
  • Data Fabric IG


Current activities


The WG is currently collecting use cases for persistent identification of instruments, working on aligning the collected metadata, and drafting a first metadata schema. 


So far, we have obtained the following contributions (Last update: October 2018).

  1. GEOFON by Javier Quinteros (November 2017)
  2. HZB by Rolf Krahl (November 2017)
  3. NIF by Veah Tapat et al. (December 2017)
  4. IREA-CNR by Alessandro Oggioni et al. (January 2018)
  5. by Ana Macario et al. (April 2018)
  6. Marine SWE by Robert Huber et al. (May 2018)
  7. ORCID by Tom Demeranville (May 2018)
  8. ICOS Carbon Portal by Claudio D’Onofrio et al. (June 2018)
  9. BODC by Louise Darroch et al. (July 2018)
  10. ESO by Dominic Bordelon et al. (August 2018)
  11. FZJ Central Library (JLSRF) by Claudia Frick (September 2018)
  12. PANGAEA by Anusuriya Devaraju et al. (September 2018)
  13. EuroGOOS/PSMSL/GLOSS by Louise Darroch (October 2018)


Recent Activity

23 Oct 2018

Draft of the metadata schema

Dear all,
as we discussed in last week's meeting, we need to finalize the first
draft of the metadata schema before the end of this week. Thanks to
Louise, we have a draft document that already takes shape, see [1].
We also have some discussions, but I guess we still could use some
more feedback. So, please have a look and share your thoughts.
Best regards,

14 Aug 2018

Next Call August 15, 4 pm UTC (Technical Subgroup)

We will have our first technical subgroup call tomorrow, Wednesday, August
15, at 4 pm UTC (6-7 pm CEST, 9-10 am PDT).
Call notes here:
Note that we are using the Americas-Europe friendly class slot for the

17 Jul 2018

Next Call July 18, 4 pm UTC (Americas-Europe friendly)

We will have our next call tomorrow, Wednesday, July 18, at 4 pm UTC (6-7
pm CEST, 9-10 am PDT).
Call notes here:
The call is mainly to get an update on use cases, especially from our
colleagues West of the Atlantic.
Cheers, m.