Saturday, 26 February 2011

Saving at Risk Internet Resources

East Midlands Knowledge Network (EMKN) is an online resource which is currently at risk, due to the demise of regional development agencies, the imminent closure of the company upon whose server it sits and the uncertain future of the East Midlands Universities Association (EMUA), who created the resource. However the information held on within the site (technologies, business services and facilities within EMUA’s institutions is valuable.

Site statistics indicate that EMKN is well used in the region, considering the small target market (BLAs) and attracts significant interest from further afield. Feedback from users has been very favourable, and the site is valued by both member HEIs and brokers (see attached letters of support).

EMKN is therefore ‘at risk’ and the issues are these
•EMKN brings together valuable resources that will promote and assist business community interaction, in line with government policy both on HE-business engagement and on-line information provision.
•EMKN was designed to meet the specific needs of (BLAs). It needs updating to be accessible by businesses directly and possibly to be incorporated into, or linked to, businesslink.gov.uk
•emda’s innovation website has content that would be a valuable addition to EMKN, but EMUA has neither the resources nor the skills in-house to incorporate these into EMKN.
•EMKN must be moved from its private sector host server by January 2011.
•EMKN is currently maintained by EMUA staff. It should be moved to an alternative server, as EMUA is also under threat.
•If the site was upgraded, maintenance could be reduced using automatic data uploads such as RSS feeds, and the content and accessibility of the information could be improved.


Therefore this project will use the need for migration of this site as a case study on protecting a valuable resource in an economical and sustainable way. The approach will:
•use free server space on Google Sites (www.google.com/sites/overview.html)
•Skilled students will be used within the migration this has the benefit of providing valuable experience for the student involving a ‘real-world’ client.


Google Sites (www.google.com/sites/overview.html) has been selected as the alternative platform for several reasons:
• It is a freely available resource, allowing this approach to be replicated with other at risk reources.
• It allows changes for individual pages or the entire site remotely by subscription
• It supports native RSS feeds for:
o Announcements pages
o Comments
o Recent site activity
• It integrates with a number of Google-based tools (such as Analytics, Webmaster tools, YouTube, Google Docs and Picasa).

Development of the site in this way will also enable the web resource to capture and include some aspects of the East Midlands Development Agency (emda) Innovation portal, which itself will no longer exist post March 2011, due to the abolishment of RDAs. 


This project has been supported by a grant from JISC.