The Europeana Foundation - on behalf of the Europeana Initiative and as steward of the common European data space for cultural heritage - was invited to contribute to the A Cloud for all event organised by the European Commission on 15 March 2023. The event took place online and aimed to kick off the formation of a community of practice for the future European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage, addressing challenges, expectations and opportunities. The Collaborative Cloud - funded under the Horizon Europe Programme of the EU - will be a digital workspace for cultural heritage professionals, researchers and scientists.
During the event, Europeana Foundation’s Sebastiaan ter Burg, Knowledge Development Specialist, Ariadna Matas, Policy Advisor, and Alba Irollo, Research Coordinator shared their experience of capacity building, collaboration in the management of copyright and open policies, and building a community of practice for and with users.
Talking collaboration: distinct remits, a common goal
The common European data space for cultural heritage will be the main access point to cultural heritage data with a focus on reuse and discovery purposes within and across sectors. As called for in the European Data Strategy, it will interact with the other 13 interconnected data spaces, pooling European data in key sectors. The Cloud will be a workspace for heritage professionals and scientists to access advanced technologies for cultural heritage preservation, conservation, and restoration purposes.
As custodians of different kinds of cultural heritage data, and with distinct missions and target audiences, the data space and the future Cloud can support each other for mutual benefit. This was a key message put forward by Europeana Foundation colleagues during the ‘A Cloud for All’ event in mid-March. How precisely do we envisage this cooperation? Here are three concrete ways:
Through community and capacity building: the Europeana Initiative has a well-established network that can play a role in connecting the future Cloud to heritage professionals. Think of the Europeana Aggregators' Forum, which acts as a direct intermediary with cultural heritage institutions, or the Europeana Network Association's EuropeanaTech and Research communities, also well-placed to build these bridges. Conversely, the future Cloud will support the Europeana Initiative and the data space in reaching out to heritage professionals that are not yet part of our communities.
By exchanging data: content and metadata relating to digitised cultural heritage objects from the data space can be used by the Cloud as source material for its research activities, while content, research outputs and data produced in the Cloud can be used by the data space. Together, we should ensure data is shared on the basis of common principles, including FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable).
Using interoperable frameworks and standards: Europeana’s frameworks - in particular on Licensing and Publishing - can underpin the work of the Cloud to ensure the implementation of digitisation and rights management standards that support interoperability, re-use and openness. Together, we can increase the uptake of sector standards so that cultural content and data can be used in and across a wide range of systems, including but not limited to the common European data space for cultural heritage and the Cloud.
By telling our common story about shared culture, people and technology: the data space and the Cloud can work together towards a value-based, people-centred and culture-driven digital public sphere in Europe. Together, we can advance our joint vision for a Europe that fully unleashes the power of culture, and a cultural heritage sector that makes the most of emerging technologies such as 3D and AI for the public good.
We are also happy to share our experience and specialised knowledge on the digital transformation of our sector - acquired over the past 15 years - and put it to good use for the development of the future Cloud. We want our learning pathways to be helpful to others!
The European Commission opened two calls for funding under the Horizon Europe Programme to establish the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage and to design and implement supporting tools. The Calls for funding are open for submission until September 2023 and selected projects will be announced in 2024.
Together with our partners, the Europeana Initiative is committed to building complementarities between the data space and the Cloud - from its conceptual phase and since the very beginning of its implementation. By working together, we can maximise our support for heritage professionals, pool resources and reach an ever-wider audience.
Are you interested in learning more about the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage? Do you want to participate in a Cloud-related Call for proposals to enhance your research and innovation activities? Join the Online ECCCH Information & Matchmaking Day on 28 March 2023! Organised by the European Commission, this event will provide information on the funding opportunities for the Cloud and related actions under Horizon Europe and will connect prospective applicants.