The European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage (‘the Cloud’) is an initiative from the European Commission in response to the digital shift and its impact and challenges on cultural institutions. The Cloud will enable networking and collaboration, at the same time of solving legal concerns and constraints now impeding the use of commercial collaboration systems.
Some of the main functionalities of the Cloud include:
- Fostering exchanges between museums through the use of content and media and attending key issues related to the field.
- Speeding up discoveries, facilitating understanding, enriching cultural experiences and promoting European cultural treasures.
- Encouraging exhibition and research projects, offering coaching, transmission of know-how, skills and best practices.
The mission is “to support research, and to make it more impactful by removing barriers and, also, by keeping data protected”. The platform will allow a legally secure space for communication and collaboration between scientists and institutions, ensuring cooperation according to European law and standards.
Open-data protocols also play an important part of the mission in order to enhance the long-term sustainability of research results and open data access, commonly challenged by the temporality of research projects.
Ensuring a wide access and participation to small and mid-sized museums will be key to accompany their digital transformation; a process which is many times not achieved due to financial, expertise or skills restraints.
The scope of the Cloud targets museums and professionals in cultural heritage, such as GLAM institutions, scholars, students and creative industries (through the exploitation of research results). The design of the Cloud will rely on the “increased understanding of digital democracy in Europe in the field of museums and Cultural Heritage institutions of all levels from local to European”.
Key notes of the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage
The Cloud and working space is a digital infrastructure that will foster collaboration between cultural, creative and technology sectors in an inclusive way, providing a safe, secure and trustworthy communication and collaboration among partners.
Open access will be offered to people and institutions involved in research projects to exchange datasets and data files with collaborative workspace and workgroups. The Cloud is a permanent infrastructure to support European Horizon research projects and projects in the future FPs.
It must be easy to add and remove users aiming at benefiting both smaller facilities and large museums and other cultural organisations.
The Cloud can pave the way for resource-saving methods by establishing tools and methods that make travel and art transport largely unnecessary.
Direct interaction and knowledge interlink will be offered. Exchanges between museums will be fostered and this will help identifying new challenges and potential areas of further development of the system. The Collaboration Space will grant accessibility to cultural heritage through new technologies, help in solving research questions and encourage and facilitate the transmission of know-how and skills. The Cloud is “instrumental in creating a true digital European (professional) cultural heritage ecosystem, a place where everyone meets everyone”.
The data will be stored under European jurisdiction.
The Cloud will need independent, non-commercial development and services, driven by the same interests and needs of professional communities endorsed in the initiative.
Encryption and signatures are required for working over the data.
Simpler ways of publishing work results will be necessary. Innovative instruments should be placed into practice, keeping memory of the entire chain and selected intermediate results.
There is a need to cope with long-term data storage and preservation.
Equality as a priority in design and development. The co-creative and integral approach to the Cloud will tackle the existing inequalities in European Cultural Heritage (regional, sectoral, professional, social, etc.).
The CHARTER Alliance will follow-up closely the developments of this new crucial EU initiative for the heritage sector. Access the full report here.
Source: European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, Brunet, P., De Luca, L., Hyvönen, E., et al., Report on a European collaborative cloud for cultural heritage : ex – ante impact assessment, 2022, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2777/64014