Portals of Digital Cultural Heritage

IBA Group
Jan Schuma

This year, IBA CZ has successfully delivered two projects that became another step forward in the area of portals. The projects were implemented for the government sector and included solutions to manage the objects of cultural heritage.

Although library portals are our new skills, we are not first-timers in the area of digital cultural heritage. Since many years, we have gained a profound experience of working with records of digital cultural heritage, for example, during the project implemented for the Police of the Czech Republic. It was the portal of the artworks’ registry system and implied the processing of information about stolen and found objects of cultural value. So we had a good knowledge of cultural valuables and a deep knowledge of police systems. The extension to another specific area was just the next logical step.

Motivation

Currently, only a few companies work in the area of library systems. The information systems they were deploying for quite a long time in all institutions, libraries, and museums are rather static and are viewed as legacy systems today. Considering our deep knowledge of portals and previous experience in similar systems we brought some fresh air into the world of library information systems. And we succeeded.

Solution

In a situation when we were providing proof of our experience in the sector, it was important to understand what the library systems are. Therefore, within the partnership with Masaryk University in Brno we worked with external experts to understand better the specific requirements and characteristics of these systems.

In fact, every institution that owns a collection of books, museum showpieces or any other collection is trying to catalog them. But everyone is doing it in its own way. Figuratively, we can say that at first there was a clay tablet, then came a papyrus followed by a parchment, paper, and finally by a digitized information system.

There is no need to say that the uniformity of data is at a “very low level”. Special purposed protocols and standards were supposed to improve the situation but they are past their prime.

For now, nothing better is available yet. (Please forget about web services). In addition, the institutions want to exchange the information about their collections.

As soon as we understood and learnt by experience what library systems were about, it was enough to cope with the existing implementations of these non-traditional technologies and to integrate the whole thing with the portal. It was not easy but thanks to the dedication of the whole team we came to a successful end.

Results

The web portal of historical collections is currently running on the Liferay platform providing the search through 50 castle libraries and ten other large-scale library institutions.

The portal of digitizing the cultural heritage literally displays the collection of books and collection of items from the Vysocina region.

For example, the above mentioned project is called PSEUD and is based on the IBM WebSphere technology.

These two projects were for all members of the team of a great benefit both from the technological and project point of view. We proved ourselves and demonstrated to our customers that we are able to work with the records practically about anything from books, paintings, sculptures, and clocks to weapons and jewelry.

We were able to create and configure the portal so as to provide easy search not only for scholars and museum keepers but for police, ministry officials, and general public as well. And certainly, no one can get illegal access to the information belonging to others. In addition, we were able to integrate the portal with the databases of ministries, Interpol, the National Library, as well as the municipal museum “somewhere in the mountains.”

If you are interested to obtain more information on the portals of digital cultural heritage, please contact Jan Schuma (jan.schuma@ibacz.eu).

New Challenges of E-Documents in ECM

IBA Group
Aleš Hojka

28. 08. 2015
Finally, legislation is catching up with technology. Nevertheless, it is still very important to provide the safety of storage and to secure the validity of electronic documents. The article by Aleš Hojka, IBA CZ General Director, reviews what the possibilities in the market are and what should be considered before purchasing a DMS (document management system).

In recent years, we often use the term “e-document” when talking about document creation and storage, as well as about document lifecycle management. No doubt that in the ECM / DMS area, it is a quickly emerging trend.

The fundamental element of this problem is the shift of legislation, not only our Czech, but European as well. For example, the Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS) clearly states that an electronic document has the same legal force as a paper document and that no authority in any of the EU Member States can decline a document just because it is not a paper one.

Providers of ECM / DMS systems and process consulting should also keep up with the times, as customers mainly appeal to document archiving or so-called reliable archive. Most frequently, we come across e-documents in banks and insurance companies, when the “hallmark” of safe storage, archiving and document inalterability is supplemented by, for example, a digital signature, certificate or biometric signature.

So how to efficiently not only carry out document processing and long-term archiving, but also to ensure their legal validity, so that formally and meaningfully they have an equal permanent and evidential value as their paper counterparts? First you need to look at the specific requirements of the customer and then to offer a suitable software, or an integration of multiple systems. A wide range of options pops up in mind from so-called enterprise solutions through other cheaper alternatives and up to open source solutions.

You need to approach every customer, either new or already existing customer, individually and offer him/her an optimal solution. Unfortunately, we come across more and more customers who were recommended an unreasonably large (enterprise) system and who are now facing the deployment of other agendas, which development and integration is much more complicated and expensive than it could be in case of simpler DMS system alternatives. Not every customer needs a robust solution, but the reverse is also true when certain requirements cannot be completely covered by the open source solution. While implementing the system, it is always necessary to bear in mind the total cost of ownership.

If customer requirements are well-defined we should rely on our experience when recommending the appropriate DMS system. The storage may be used for archiving documents, and unless there is no requirement for workflow processes or internal robust integration with other systems, we shouldn’t be afraid of using proven technologies such as MS SharePoint Foundation, Alfresco CE, ELO, as well as other open source solutions that are able to cover these requirements completely.

Another category is the implementation of a system where the customer expects the emphasis on speed, personal processing engine, ability to integrate with other systems, power, scalability, etc. In this case, we choose enterprise systems like IBM FileNet, EMC Documentum, Microsoft SharePoint or OpenText.

The shift in the legislation is good news for the market. Only time will tell how we can manage it, both DMS solution implementers and our customers.

Taking Mobile Tech From Home to Enterprise

IBA Group
Mark Hillary

Think about the consumer technology that you regularly use today. You probably have a smart phone, maybe a Kindle or other e-reader, maybe an Apple Watch or similar device that can access information from your phone. Maybe your car can hook up to your phone to offer in-car information. Maybe you have an Amazon Echo at home so you can access the Internet just by speaking?

All these consumer devices are available today and are accepted as normal. Most consumers expect to have a device that gives them 24/7 access to all the services and information that the Internet can offer.

So why isn’t enterprise technology like this? Many companies still issue phones that are not even smart and laptops that are too heavy to really be portable. The concepts of cloud computing and app store flexibility remain conceptual in many organisations. Why?

The obvious answer is that consumers have far less to invest than large companies. When purchasing technology, a CIO needs to set the agenda for several years. If things change during that time it can be difficult to shift direction or to keep up with the change. Individuals don’t face this problem.

This has led to the popularity of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies in many companies, where employees are offering cash to use their own equipment instead of what the company can supply.

But a small change in the strategic mindset can also have a major benefit to the enterprise. Commissioning new software solutions as apps, rather than desktop tools can encourage the workforce to be mobile. This can even encourage companies to create entirely new solutions for customers.

An app developed by IBA for use by a bank in South Africa allows bank employees to sign up new customers on the move. They can photograph the customer using their phone and capture details which are then shared with the central system of the bank – no forms, no waiting for an appointment. The new customers, the mobile bank employees, and the bank executives all benefit from the app approach.

It used to be that enterprise technology was years ahead of what people had at home, but now the reverse is true. It’s time for more company executives to take inspiration from the tools they use everyday – how can we use mobile devices and other common personal technology to create better business solutions for our customers?