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Research, Intelligence and Technology for Heritage and Market Security

Project description

AI strategy to fight trafficking of cultural heritage

Illicit trade of cultural heritage can be a lucrative business for criminal organisations and even terrorist groups. They exploit the internet and social media to increase and differentiate their activity, making it difficult for law enforcement to tackle this transnational crime. The EU-funded RITHMS project will boost the operational capacity of police, customs and border authorities in addressing the organised and poly-criminal nature of cultural goods trafficking. It proposes an interdisciplinary approach and cross-cutting research connecting all domains relevant to this crime. The aim is to inform the theoretical framework of an interoperable IT platform based on social network analysis and capable of identifying the involved actors and their interconnections. This platform will provide investigators with valuable intelligence on the activities and potential evolution of these networks.


RITHMS project intends to boost the operational capacity of Police and Customs/Border Authorities in addressing the increasingly organised and poly-criminal nature of trafficking in cultural goods through research, technological innovation, outreach and training.
Illicit trade in cultural heritage has progressed from a local phenomenon limited to the initiative of a few individuals to a highly remunerative source of income for criminal organisations and terrorist groups that have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the web and social media to further expand an already flourishing market. Against this background, RITHMS proposes an interdisciplinary approach made necessary by the transnational character of this crime and its links to other criminal networks. The project will define a replicable strategy to counter the challenges in addressing the illicit trafficking of stolen/looted cultural goods and to investigate the mechanisms underpinning it, including its connection with organised crime. RITHMS will foster cross-cutting research bringing together all the domains relevant to expand the understanding of this type of crime (art market, criminology, law studies, forensic science, etc.). Inputs from these disciplines will inform the theoretical framework underlying an interoperable AI-based Platform able to identify criminal organised networks and to provide investigators with valuable intelligence on the activities and evolution of such networks. The Platform will be leveraging the methods of Social Network Analysis (SNA), a methodology that gives a way to better understand human behaviour through people's relations and interactions. Including four Police authorities, two Border Agencies, one Police School, SMEs, and researchers from SSH and ICT, RITHMS Consortium is well positioned to offer solutions to counteract more effectively organisations involved in illicit activities against cultural heritage.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 232 230,00
Via morego 30
16163 Genova

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Nord-Ovest Liguria Genova
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (18)

Partners (1)