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The University of Cambridge is home to internationally renowned research centres and strategic initiatives either in the field of digital humanities or working in cognate areas closely related to DH. The four independent initiatives described below are of particular relevance to the work of CDH.

The Cambridge Centre for Digital Knowledge (CCDK) constitutes an ambitious response to the current state of digital knowledge, in a form that enables swift, scalable and dynamic response to rapidly changing intellectual, cultural and technological conditions. The premise of CCDK is that we are now entering the third phase of Digital Humanities. Whereas the first phase prioritised the digitisation of analogue materials, the second involved the growth of a digital humanities discipline, which has promoted new working practices in the humanities and social sciences. One result of these two phases has been the facilitation and increased speed of access to data. The third phase now urgently requires new forms of understanding that will use new technologies to transcend rather than perpetuate well-worn approaches in the humanities and social sciences. The CCDK – which comprises the Technology and Democracy project, the Concept Lab and the Digital Society project – is structured around two strands of research which represent the two most pressing concerns of digital humanities: Digital Epistemology and Digital Society.

The Cambridge Big Data Strategic Research Initiative brings together researchers from across the University to address challenges presented by our access to unprecedented volumes of data. Its research spans all six Schools of the University, from the underlying fundamentals in mathematics and computer science, to applications ranging from astronomy and bioinformatics, to medicine, social science and the humanities. In parallel, its research addresses important issues around law, ethics and economics, in order to apply Big Data to solve challenging problems for society. Cambridge Big Data supports collaboration and knowledge transfer in this growing field. Its cross-disciplinary activities are organised around five cross-cutting themes: theoretical foundations; data management and processing; imaging; ethics, access and impact; and making Big Data work. Cambridge Big Data identifies, on an ongoing basis, emerging challenges and project areas which cut across discipline boundaries and create new opportunities to address these broad and important questions.

The mission of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) is to build a new interdisciplinary community of researchers, with strong links to technologists and the policy world, and a clear practical goal: to work together to ensure that we humans make the best of the opportunities of artificial intelligence as it develops over coming decades. Funded by a £10 million grant from the Leverhulme Trust, CFI will explore the opportunities and challenges of this potentially epoch-making technology, short-term as well as long-term. The Centre is based at the University of Cambridge, with partners at the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, at Imperial College London, and at the University of California, Berkeley. Its research is mostly structured in a series of projects and research exercises. These projects are the root structure of CFI’s new community, reaching out to researchers and connecting them and their ideas to the challenges of making the best of AI. Topics range from algorithmic transparency to exploring the implications of AI for democracy.

The Cambridge Centre for Digital Built Britain is a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction for the future and transform the UK construction industry’s approach to the way we plan, build, maintain and use our social and economic infrastructure. Digital Built Britain seeks to digitise the entire life-cycle of our built assets, finding innovative ways of delivering more capacity out of our existing social and economic infrastructure, dramatically improving the way these assets deliver social services to deliver improved capacity and better public services. Above all, it will enable citizens to make better use of the infrastructure we already have. The Centre will develop and demonstrate policy and practical insights, leading to standards and guidance, that will enable the exploitation of new and emerging technologies, data and analytics to enhance the natural and built environment. This will increase productivity, helping create ‘high performing assets’ in terms of their construction, their operational efficiency and improvement in the services they were created to deliver, creating commercial opportunities and enhancing citizen quality of life and well-being.

The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) is a community which develops shared Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and implements them in software to expose interoperable content. That is to say, it is working to make the reuse of digital images from library, museum and other collections as seamless, as flexible and as powerful as possible. The University of Cambridge is a founding member of the IIIF Consortium and hosted the inaugural working group meeting in 2011. As part of that community we have committed to support the growth and adoption of IIIF by signing the IIIF-C’s Memorandum of Understanding. In supporting the goals of IIIF, the University is providing scholars with an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources hosted around the world. In 2015 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded a scoping project to assess and demonstrate the feasibility of implementing IIIF at Cambridge University Library. By successfully making nearly a quarter of a million images and associated metadata available via IIIF, this project has laid the foundations which will enable broader adoption across Cambridge and allow its collections to join up with each other virtually, alongside those of many other collections across the world. With a growing interest in three-dimensional modelling of objects in collections and their study, such as this recently re-discovered Sumerian Tablet, the University is also in a strong position to continue contributing to the advancement of IIIF into media beyond simple flat images. Through the University wide Images Network, Cambridge also has scope to explore the broader adoption of IIIF beyond the humanities: with Cambridge’s such strong research in STEM subjects, this is an area in which it hopes IIIF will bring great innovation.

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