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Innovative e-environment for Research on Cities and the Media

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - I-Media-Cities (Innovative e-environment for Research on Cities and the Media)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2019-03-31

I-MEDIA-CITIES is in line with EU policy to promote a greater understanding of the continent’s history and social development. The project brings together nine European film libraries, seven research institutions and a specialist in digital technologies. Our goal is to integrate film, audiovisual records and pictures of city life, before generating two types of digital ‘e-environments’ where the information about this precious European cultural heritage, previously inaccessible, will be easily shared, accessed and enriched.

Cultural, heritage and museum institutions across Europe are holding large digital collections that can have a significant impact on many research fields. But today, the link between these institutions and the research field still needs to be established. Equally important is the fact that neither cultural heritage institutions nor the research field are taking full advantage of information technologies in order to improve the opportunities and the quality for research and for providing access to these collections.

The I-MEDIA-CITIES project addresses this issue by creating conditions for an effective collaboration between research and FHI institutions, supported by solutions to improve the user experience, innovative research possibilities and an economically sustainable model to use digital content in different contexts.

As the films provide fascinating insights into the ways cities have developed over the years, I-MEDIA-CITIES works to give access to unique digital collections to researchers and to the general public. The collections include a huge quantity of material dating from the end of the 19th century onwards. Archives from Austria, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Italy are being made available, to allow novel approaches to multidisciplinary research, and develop creative as well as business innovation related to this heritage.

To improve access to these resources, the IMC team will develop an interoperable and multilingual digital content platform, which can be used to study and enrich information on large European cities. The platform will be providing different interfaces, user experiences, services & functionalities.

Advanced, interactive and innovative visualization solutions will be implemented that will display the digital content in different ways depending on the choices of the users. Users will be allowed to search, comment, tag, and annotate the content freely.
The first year of the project was used to carefully and methodically plan out the foundations of the project, based upon an analysis of the target users' needs, technological capabilities, research objectives, content limitations, project objectives and available resources. In order to create a stable planning for the implementation of the hard- and software components, as well as all parts contributing to the successful completion of the project and its future sustainability, state of the art analysis on several levels was performed and implementation of the first system functionalities, ahead of GA planning, was achieved. The Consortium felt that these first component iterations were necessary to support other project goals, such as the upload functionalities for content and metadata coming from the FHI partners.

The second year of the project was used to make the necessary adaptations to certain planned project parts. and saw a selection of those carefully planned project parts actualized and tested. The technical partners were heavily engaged in implementing and integrating the first versions of several project functionalities, while also training and developing others. These first versions were immediately tested and evaluated by all partners in the first cycle of the Living Labs, after which a prioritized list of improvements was drafted and incorporated into the implementation schedule for the first development cycle.

Meanwhile the archive partners had to finish the first stage of their content preparation work, while the research partners had to launch into the work schedule of their research planning, which starts with content enrichment and content research. Locally, all FHI partners prepared the content files selected for the project and made sure they had all the necessary licenses for them to be used in the project, before uploading them, and providing the necessary relevant metadata files to the project repository. As soon as the pilot was launched, both partner groups started with the annotation enrichment of the content.

The third year of the project was mainly spend on using and testing all implemented functionalities, reporting back on them, evaluating the portal and business cases through the final Living Lab cycles, and organizing major dissemination events such as the 4 conferences of the project, as well as writing, editing and publishing an I-Media-Cities book. During this last year, several unforeseen functionalities had to be analysed, designed and implemented, which impacted the general implementation schedule. The partners also analysed the Living Lab results to decide on a governance, exploitation and sustainability plan for the post-project period, which was installed and activated on April 1, 2019
Technical:

All technical components used in the development of the platform have achieved their aimed for TRL. A list of all these components is added to the Technical report Part B.



Impact:

- New research perspectives and interaction between users were achieved.
- An innovative platform for media delivery in different formats has been implemented
- Cross-lingual solutions are designed into the project structure
- The project will be able to include other archives content & has an open and interoperable character.
- Project design is transferable to other cultural objects.
- SMEs from both the audio-visual as well as the digital sectors have participated to the project through the Living Labs and
- Participation at Regional level for what concerns the cultural economy and creative industries has just began.
- The project has generated employment in the archives, research centres and Digital institutions involved.
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