Alexandre Rouxel (EBU)
A unique regional platform for the exchange of metadata related to audiovisual archives was launched in July. It was developed within an EU project to provide technical assistance to public service media (PSM) organizations in the Western Balkans (see below).
The Archive Metadata Exchange Platform, built by the EBU as one of the project’s consortium partners, is flexible, scalable and easy to use. It leverages the full capabilities of graphical databases and knowledge graphs. It is hosted in the cloud for easy access but with minimal adaptation it can be deployed on site or moved between different cloud platforms.
Connecting and sharing
The aim of the platform is to present a window on the material held in the audiovisual archives of PSM organizations in the Western Balkans. It provides basic information about the content available, the title, format, source, date, rights and description, and should be the basis for the exchange of the material on a bilateral or multilateral basis.
By connecting and sharing metadata and knowledge, this platform enables the development of joint actions and productions between PSM organizations. For its launch, the platform was initialized with the metadata of 884 hours of archive content, representing 1,302 items. This metadata list was prepared by the Western Balkans’ PSM organizations in cooperation with Austria’s ORF, another of the project’s consortium partners.
Cloud or on premises
From a technological point of view the platform is a graph database exposed via a user interface that generates pre- coded queries for reading (see diagram) or writing. It offers the participating organizations an efficient way to share digitized content and explore the associated metadata.
The exchange platform is deployed on Amazon’s cloud platform but does not rely on it for the user interface or user management services that form the core of the platform nor on the AWS proprietary graph database. It can thus be moved to other cloud providers or to on-premises servers without development effort.
In terms of usability, the architecture has been designed to make interaction with the graph database easy for non- experts. For reading, the user interface generates pre-coded queries that are sent to the graph database to gather data. For writing, an Excel-based template file is used to generate queries that feed the graph database with formatted data. The platform automatically checks the conformity of the metadata and warns the user in case of a problem and asks them to reformat. This is a way to guarantee and maintain the quality of the database, which will be fed by many contributors. The quality and searchability of the ingested data are thus guaranteed.
Who is involved?
The Technical Assistance to Public Service Media in the Western Balkans project is a Service Contract of the European Commission that has been awarded to a consortium led by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) together with the EBU, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Austrian public broadcaster (ORF), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), and the Eurovision News Exchange for Southeast Europe (ERNO).
The beneficiaries are the six public service media organizations in the Western Balkans: RTSH (Albania), BHRT (Bosnia-Herzegovina), RTCG (Montenegro), RTK (Kosovo), MKRTV (North Macedonia) and RTS (Serbia). Other stakeholders include the parliamentary committees responsible for media, the media regulatory bodies and the PSM governing bodies.
This article was first published in issue 53 of tech-i magazine.