Erfgoedplus: Online heritage platform
Erfgoedplus.be is a platform for the crowd sourced collection and sharing of digital data about cultural heritage of any kind with a focus on local heritage in the Belgian provinces of Limburg and Vlaams-Brabant. “This outstanding platform has considerably advanced the standards of heritage documentation in Belgium”, said the jury about this project which aims to train heritage managers (professional or not) in high quality documentation by developing and using state-of-the-art data collection software. The project is coordinated by the Provincial Centre for Cultural Heritage, Province of Limburg and has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
The platform is a system of three parts: a data repository for collecting relevant information, the website www.erfgoedplus.be for public access and a web-based registration tool to allow managers of small, local collections to make an inventory of their collections according to current professional standards. The web-based tool is built to the most advanced standards in heritage documentation and ensures that the work of the local heritage organisations has equal footing in the context of international heritage documentation.
However, this project is unique in that the development of the technology represents just a small part of the initiative’s activities with the system being a fundamental tool to achieve its wider aims. These goals include motivating and supporting local heritage communities to record and consolidate the knowledge they have about their heritage and to show the importance of consistency in professional standards.
“This initiative provides an interesting and effective training model for other projects throughout Europe as it integrates community involvement, education and digitisation, which is inclusive in that it allows smaller heritage stakeholders to contribute to larger portals in a professional manner”,emphasised the jury.
Erfgoedplus.be does not carry out the registration of the collections itself but relies on the dedicated work of local collection managers to do so. While those carrying out the registration are the experts on the content that they provide, Erfgoedplus.be offers the support and technical expertise to ensure that their knowledge is recorded in a skillful manner. The initiative achieves this by offering guidance, training, advice and a helpdesk.
“This project provides a valuable tool in support of other heritage preservation projects while increasing the public awareness of the values of cultural heritage. It achieves this by using open data and promotes the reuse of digital data through their link with Europeana, an important and easily accessible repository for Europe’s shared heritage. This is a great example of excellence in heritage documentation, stated the jury.