Flexible Access to Statistics, Tables and Electronic Resources
Flexible Access to Statistics, Tables and Electronic Resources (FASTER) combined the skills of national statistical institutes, data archives and academic researchers to develop a flexible metadata interface that aimed to accelerate access to all types of statistical data. The project took forward developments in metadata, interoperability, personalisation of the user environment and secure access to vital information resources.
FASTER was designed to create a flexible and intelligent presentation system for access to statistical and other data in a distributed 'virtual' environment. The project brought together content management and personalisation technologies with the requirements for user-friendly statistical dissemination services. Based on a web environment with client side functionality, and built around the careful specification of metadata content, it allowed the user to create their own personal data environment, derive all relevant contextual and supporting information and hence make the most productive use of expensive data resources.
The project was brought to a successful conclusion and the tools, as defined in the functional specification, were delivered. Following the project, the teams engaged in a further research and development projects, including the COSMOS project to develop an integrated metadata model, and MADIERA, a new implementation project in the EC's Fifth Framework Programme.
Nesstar Ltd. handled the commercial exploitation of the main results with support from all partners. Widespread interest in the output meant that, at its peak, the company employed about fifteen staff, engaged in management, marketing, technical development and support services.
The Archive acted as co-ordinator and manager of the project as a whole and made a significant contribution to the metadata aspects of this work including contributions to the development of the DDI. In addition, the Archive contributed the technical developments on the server side of the software and worked closely with our colleagues at Norwegian Social Science Data Service (NSD) on the client side. The Archive also contributed to the access control unit, developed by the University of Milan (UNIMI).