Technology

There is no question that Lost in Balboa Park is complex in its architecture and production. The work required to transform the Park institutions to a connected, digitally savvy, digitally literate and digitally accomplished cultural destination will be significant. Deeply integrated, enabling technology lies at the heart of BPOC’s vision of the future—it is a key enabling foundation. Balboa Park institutions—both large and small—will be supported in order to create the interconnected pool of data that drives visitor experience. The structure is guided by principles of:

  • Rich engagement
  • Flexibility
  • Sustainability
  • Scalability
  • Practicality
  • Gaining value from leading-edge ideas

Below is information about the layers of technology involved: the application Expression, the core Ecosystem for integrated content, institutional Infrastructure, and our approach to the Substance of managing data, content and digital assets. The skills, expertise, and knowledge is out there—now we just need the commitment and resources. Want to go directly to the big picture?

Expression: Applications to Create Opportunities

BPOC’s application approach is flexible, allowing institutions to incorporate various applications that meet their users’ needs. We want to empower every institution with the appropriate tools and skills they need to fully capture their diverse collections.

  • Public and private partner digital access via web, mobile apps, and future delivery methods.

  • Physical environment support at Balboa Park, allowing for in-Park guidance and experiences, and in-gallery engagement and learning for users. This support could be extended to partner institutions, tourist sites, and supporting companies in San Diego.

  • Internal data management and research will be supported across institutional boundaries and within individual institutions.

  • Data access for cultural heritage developers is also envisioned, helping to extend the reach and authority of Balboa Park’s assets.

The application environment will leverage the best of what is available now, and maintain a framework for emerging capabilities. It will not be monolithic, which can lead to rigidity. Designing a modular, layered architecture will allow us to support the gamut of institutions, some of whom are digitally competent, and those who still need to develop. Applications will avoid becoming locked in by interacting closely with the data Application Programming Interface (API) capabilities planned for the Content Ecosystem layer.

See more about the plan for the Application layer. Also browse through our Ideas & Examples.

Ecosystem: Integration and Enabling

The Content Ecosystem is the heart of BPOC. It coordinates the integration and relationship-building among data, content, and assets from the various institutional sources. It then provides that integration to the many applications and systems that need it. It is a connected, symbiotic information architecture that will continue to grow and evolve, creating experiences across a suite of channels and platforms. There are four main parts to the Content Ecosystem:

  • The data management center holds the integrated linked data graph and relationships that are created between data items. It also holds the integrated management capabilities, rules, permissions, and notifications, along with analytics for reporting.

  • The translation and integration pipeline is a set of data services that move data from legacy and institution-specific repositories in the Infrastructure layer, harmonize it, and enhance it for use in the data management center.

  • The identity and access management gateway makes sure that data and content gets to the appropriate destinations—and only to those destinations.

  • The data access facility—APIs, endpoints, and data caches—supports access by the institutions, partners, and the public. APIs and SPARQL endpoints are a common way to make data available to other applications in a standards-based, easily-adopted, agreed way. Data caches are optimized for high-performance use of media assets and content, delivering appropriate formats (read-only) where needed.

See more about the plan for the Ecosystem layer.

Infrastructure: Sustainability

With so many institutions in Balboa Park and so many different data, content, and asset needs, it is vital to remain flexible about underlying data management. One guiding principle behind BPOC’s approach is to minimize disruption while maximizing value: in other words, to make sure that the existing data operations are stable and that changing the entire infrastructure is not on the critical path. The main considerations for the Infrastructure layer are:

  • Connecting legacy systems to the Ecosystem. Use shared/open source content extraction utilities for the common collection management systems and data repositories that are already in use in the Park. Plan ahead to isolate mappings, to handle changes in both legacy systems and the Ecosystem formats.

  • Enabling smaller institutions to manage data effectively. Provide simple, centralized data management applications (collection management, metadata management, digital asset management, etc.) to move from paper or local spreadsheet-driven processes. These small institutions, with the proper resource support, could be early adopters and rapidly prove out the capabilities of the integrated data Ecosystem approach. This will provide lessons learned and examples for larger institutions.

  • Writing enhanced data back to legacy systems from the Ecosystem. As data is harmonized and new relationships are created, some of that information should be passed back into the legacy systems of record to be managed by each institution. The APIs in the Digital Access Facility are expected to be used for this purpose. We propose creating separate APIs for reading data and writing data (rather than single read-write services), as there will be different security implications and different users of each.

See more about the plan for the Infrastructure layer.

Substance: Data and Content Standards

Managing and sharing data, content, and assets is getting clearer, as there is a growing body of standards, formats, and tools available (both open source and affordable commercial). At the same time, some of those standards and common formats are still evolving, so adoption will necessarily be incremental and carefully managed, as outlined in the Business Roadmap. Reducing long-term risk and maximizing value from Balboa Park’s data and assets is the goal. To maintain the highest data and content standards, we will need to:

  • Know our assets. BPOC will create and maintain a high-level inventory of the types of data, content, and assets that need to be managed and integrated. For ongoing success, we will need to understand how they are managed and what support is needed.

  • Establish principles for integrating across data sources. This includes creating service-level agreements, operating agreements, and quality reviews. BPOC will create processes for incorporating data sets over time, based on value and organizational readiness.

  • Identify common and specialized vocabularies, ontologies, and schemas that provide a solid framework for integration in the Ecosystem; at the same time, architect for change by staying flexible and modular.

  • Establish a cross-institutional integration working group that can support each other with advice and resources, and resolve questions about how best to harmonize and integrate data among the institutions.

  • Establish a group of advisors from across the technology spectrum to keep BPOC up-to-date and actively engaged in the evolution of standards, formats, and tools.

See more about the plan for Data and Content Standards.