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Information and Communications Technology

Audiences beyond Canberra are increasingly reached by the Museum using information and communication technologies. Visitors to Acton Peninsula are also offered a mixture of presentation techniques and leading edge technology to enhance their experience.

The recommendations of the 2001-2002 Strategic Review of Information and Communications Technology continued to be implemented. This included the establishment of a new integrated organisational structure for the development and delivery of information technology, digital communication and assets, multimedia and online services. Several other key strategic initiatives were commenced to establish infrastructure and develop skills and capacity, including the establishment of a product development section managing the commissioning and production of multimedia products for exhibitions, marketing and the Museum's website. A number of new partnerships and collaborations were also established and existing ones strengthened.

Virtual visitors: The Museum online

Director Dawn Casey, contractor Nic Welbourne and Fiona Honor discuss the the Museum's online annual report
Director Dawn Casey, contractor Nic Welbourne and Fiona Honor discuss the the Museum's online annual report
Photo: George Serras

Partnerships and collaborations

As part of a significant educational and technology initiative, the Museum became the first cultural institution to be contracted to develop content for interactive online curriculum materials for primary schools throughout Australia. As part of the Studies of Australia project, the Museum is working in partnership with Massive Interactive, a Sydney-based multimedia company, and the national online learning organisation, The Learning Federation, a body jointly owned by all Australian governments. The project involves creating online learning materials about Australian history for primary students, based on important events and people that have shaped Australian identities. The Museum's role in the project is expected to be completed in 2003-2004, with state and territory education departments publishing the material in 2004-2005.

The Museum's partnership with the Murray-Darling Basin Commission and the University of Tasmania on a $1.13 million project funded last year by the Australian Research Council continued in 2002-2003. This research project, Committing to Place, is researching how information and communication technologies can increase community involvement in the management of environmental and cultural heritage issues. The results will also establish models for use by the Museum in its outreach activities in rural and regional communities.

Two new technology partnerships were also established this year. Novell, a leading international and software consulting company, entered into a three-year agreement with the Museum to provide support for strategic ICT projects, and in particular the implementation of the new web architecture project. Sun Microsystems, a previous supporter of the Museum through the To Mars and Beyond exhibition, also joined the technology partnership program, supplying professional services.

In response to an invitation by the Swedish Government, the Museum commenced a consultancy to advise on the development of information and communications technologies to be applied in the new National Museum of World Cultures due to open in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2004. The first stage of the consultancy will be completed in August 2003.

Through the Museum's memorandum of understanding with the Canberra Institute of Technology, training opportunities for students were provided in the areas of help desk support, systems administration and quality assurance for the website.

Multimedia production

More than 50 video and multimedia productions were developed during the year as well as television commercials and promotional DVDs. These included the media for new stories in the Eternity exhibition, video content for the exhibitions, Hickory Dickory Dock, Stories from Australia, Cartoons and Rare Trades, and multimedia interactives for the Paipa and Rare Trades exhibitions.

IT infrastructure and services

The growing convergence of digital technologies brings a range of opportunities for cultural institutions, and this year the Museum commenced development of a new system to effectively create and manage digital content resources for exhibitions, collections management, public programs, schools and online service delivery. To be known as the Collections and Exhibitions Information Management System (CEIMS), major aspects of the work carried out this year included mapping and documenting business processes related to exhibition development and delivery, integrating with other key systems such as the web architecture project and the central digital media repository, and commencing the mapping and migration process for the Museum's legacy data systems. Implementation of the system is due to commence in December 2003 and will encompass images, video and audio resources to international best practice standards.

Development of a digital content management system commenced to consolidate existing image databases in the Museum. The new system will also enable staff at their workplace to change the content of touchscreen multimedia and plasma screens in the visitor areas.

Information technology infrastructure was enhanced through the completion of the first stage of a high-speed optical fibre connection to the Mitchell repositories, significantly improving the speed and reliability of the Museum's wide area network services. All four major Museum sites will soon be linked by optical fibre.

Policies and standards

Initiatives included development of:

  • a set of standards, policies and guidelines governing the use of information and communications technology by Museum staff, including the management of digital assets such as photographs and film
  • an integrated information standards framework , bringing together best practice standards from Australian government agencies and the international museum sector. This framework is expected to be completed in the second half of 2003
  • new procedures and standards to ensure the application of best practice in records management in collaboration with the National Archives of Australia.

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Multimedia