Persistent Identification of Instruments


Group details

Secretariat Liaison: 
Lynn Yarmey
TAB Liaison: 
Larry Lannom
WGs Getting started (~0-6 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.


So far, we have obtained the following contributions:

  • GEOFON by Javier Quinteros (November 2017)
  • HZB by Rolf Krahl (November 2017)
  • National Imaging Facility by Andrew Janke (December 2017)
  • IREA-CNR by Alessandro Oggioni, Cristiano Fugazza, and Paolo Tagliolato (January 2018)
  • by Roland Koppe and Ana Macario (April 2018)
  • Marine SWE by Robert Huber et al. (May 2018)
  • ORCID by Tom Demeranville (May 2018)


Recent Activity

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.

03 Jul 2018

Next Call July 4, 8 am UTC (Australia-Europe friendly)

We will have our next call, in about 24 hours, on Wednesday, July 4, at 8
am UTC (10 am CEST).
Call notes here:
Anyone who had further thoughts e.g., on instrument definitions please note
in the minutes.
Cheers, m.

04 Jun 2018

Next Call June 6, 8 am UTC (Australia friendly)

We will have our next call on Wednesday, June 6, at 8 am UTC (10 am CEST).
Call notes here:
Use case authors, please include a table that lists the metadata your use
case requires, see the proposed table in the notes of the last meeting:

01 May 2018

Use cases: Existing and new ones

Thanks to everyone who has submitted a use case description so far. I read
them through and left my comments and suggestions.
I encourage all members to read the use cases and engage in the
discussions. They are all very interesting and are building a strong
foundation for our WG.
I would like to encourage other members who can submit a use case to
consider doing so. The WG is currently in the "use case gathering" phase.
Please let us know if you or your organization can make use of persistent

06 Apr 2018

AW: [pid-instruments] [FYI] Meet-up at EGU: Discuss metadata schema

Dear Markus,
Thank you for this - the colleague Roland Koppe will be attending EGU and engage in the PID discussions with the group.
I‘ve just uploaded AWI’s Use Case as discussed in last video conference.
To all a nice weekend and a productive meeting next week!
Best, Ana.
Dr. Ana Macario
Computing and Data Centre
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine, Bremerhaven, Germany

05 Apr 2018

[FYI] Meet-up at EGU: Discuss metadata schema

Dear all,
for those who attend EGU, there will be a meet-up on persistent
identification of instruments:
Wed, 11 April, Starting at 16:30, Hall X3, X3.56
Co-located with the poster:
Use of the ENVRI Reference Model to Support the Design of Environmental
Research Infrastructures. Abraham Nieva de la Hidalga, Alex R. Hardisty,
Barbara Magagna, Paul W. Martin, and Zhiming Zhao, Wed, 11 Apr,
15:30–17:00, Hall X3, X3.56