| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
At the end of 2007, MiBACT-SSBAR developed the first SITAR Project action plan oriented to both implementation aspects and permanent funding schema, as following:
- end of 2007:
- designation of the scientific committee and scientific-technical workgroup;
- availability check of the funding schema;
- first allocation of MiBACT-SSBAR internal annual funds;
- survey on public projects, systems and web-platforms to analyse the scenario of good practices;
- analysis and description of users’ needs and current work-flows;
- description of SITAR ontological model underlaying the system logic architecture;
- design and implementation of the core geo-database SITAR, with the all related users requirements and technical specifications;
- implementation and testing of new acquiring, treatment, digitization and archiving of material and digital documents, heterogeneous raw data, public mapbases, etc.;
- prototypes of webGIS and webDatabase developed around geo-database, archiving procedures and necessary functionalities;
- establishment of the SITAR Service at MiBACT-SSBAR;
- aggregation of the data-entry équipe;
- SITAR Data Lab establishment and hardware/software early equipments;
- confirmation of annual funds allocation;
- testing phase of data bank and web applications;
- improvement of SITAR digital repository;
- installation of back-up and data recovery systems;
- technological improvement of webGIS;
- allocation of internal annual funds, with an integration una-tantum with other funds supplied by MiBACT;
- improvement of dedicated digital infrastructure;
- enhancement of SITAR Data Lab;
- advanced testing phase of web platform, digitizing procedures and user interfaces;
- first web publication of the “Archaeological Safeguard Map of Rome”;
- cooperation with University of Siena, Italy, for design and implementation of a specific conceptual/data model dedicated to the archaeological architectures seismic risk assessment;
- First Conference on SITAR at Rome, to disseminate the early outcomes and share them with the institutional, research and academic communities;
- allocation of annual internal funds;
- last phase of cooperation with University of Siena, Italy;
- fine-tuning of SITAR conceptual and data model in order to receive the “seismic risk of archaeological architectures” model requirements and optimize the functionalities of SITAR data bank;
- integration of the archaeological sites and monuments logic class, for their unambiguous identification, mapping and description;
- mapping activities to official MiBACT description paradigma issued by ICCD, the Italian Central Insititute for Catalogue and Documentation;
- improvement of digital object management, archiving and metadata description, and bibliographic references;
- early reflections on data accessibility and publication modes with respect to intellectual rights, open data, personal data vs. public domain information, knowledge sharing, etc.;
- integration in web applications of a group/users policy and a specific single-record-level access policy to better manage roles and permissions, data availability and use/re-use;
- new cooperation with MiBACT central administration and committees; local government bodies; Consortium GARR and National Research and Education Network; CNR, the Italian National Research Council; ENEA, the Italian government Agency for Development and Renewable Energies; Italian Universities; University of Groeningen, the Netherlands; Istituto de Arqueologia de Merida, Spain; Municipality of Wien, Austria; Indianapolis Museum of Arts, USA; Autodesk Italia; ESRI Italia;
- Second Conference on SITAR;
- annual allocation of internal funds;
- more advanced testing phase of the platform;
- organization/participation in national/international conferences to disseminate SITAR Project outcomes;
- 2013, 2014, 2015 annual allocations of internal funds;
- improvement of all SITAR web applications, especially web data editing, mapping, pubblication functionalities;
- 2013 setup of new network connections based on the mentioned NREN “GARR-X”;
- 2013 Third Conference on SITAR;
- 2013/2014 participations in national/international meetings;
- 2015 organization of the Fourth Conference on SITAR.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
In SITAR development process there are four primary activity areas, with relative stakeholders and execution implications:
- design/implementation of web platform: the theoretical and practical design/implementation phases have requested some different expertises to scientific committee members (senior archaeologists managers, officers and researchers affiliated to MiBACT, research and academic institutions) which have worked jointly with the technical workgroup of analysts, informatics engineers and programmers, to translate the theoretical and methodological framework elaborated into SITAR conceptual and data model, core geo-database and web applications; moreover, in terms of public datasets and mapbases collection, the MiBACT-SSBAR cooperation agreements with local government bodies have been fundamental;
- design, coding and testing of data processing procedures: under the coordination of steering commitee, these activities have been carried out by the technical workgroup and the data-entry équipe, especially within the SITAR Data Lab; moreover, during the experimentation long period internal and external users were requested to contribute in highlighting the necessary improvements, to speed up feed-backs collection and system optimization, tracing an approach that in next times will be extended to all other users;
- identification and implementation of data access, publication and sharing policies: for these crucial purposes, it has been necessary to involve members of MiBACT central administration and institutes, scientific and juridical professionals, committees of dedicated conferences, etc., to activate a new reasoning process about themes of data publication, sharing and use/re-use licenses, intellectual rights, open and linked data, open science, etc.; despite a debate still very alive, the need of clearer policies is strongly highlighted by recent amendments also in the Italian juridical and cultural framework, and it requests for the engagement of the all the stakeholders;
- continuous enhancement of the SITAR web platform modules: all the SITAR users have been and will be actively involved in this everlasting development process.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In economic terms, the first seven-years development period of the SITAR Project may be recapped as following:
- total percentage for internal personnel costs 20%
- total percentage for all other human resources (design and implementation, data-entry): 62%
- total percentage for technical resources (web platform, applications, network connections): 34%
- total percentage for dissemination activities (annual Conferences on SITAR): 3%
- Total amount of project deployed funds: €1.600.000
As featured in the previous paragraphs, the SITAR Project has been self-funded for the most part by MiBACT-SSBAR with its own ordinary annual financial resources, and for the remain with other funds supplied by MiBACT within the 2010 financial annual exercise; the respective funding percentages are the following:
- MiBACT-SSBAR annual internal funds: 82%
- other MiBACT funds: 18%
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The SITAR Project has allowed to perform the following primary outputs:
- SITAR web platform: as a collaborative environment for sharing between many users data, informations, digital objects and knowledge about archaeological heritage of Rome, like a typical public cadastre, the web platform represents a fundamental milestone with regard to purposes of data systematization, availability and mapping; through the SITAR web platform users can now access, find, responsibly use and contribute to edit thousands of field reports, documents, cartographic and iconographic items, etc., to be continuously optimized as easily available metadata, digital objects and web maps;
- SITAR procedures and standards: overcoming the initial slow and weak integration of ICT, technologies and updated methodologies in office workflows, new SITAR standardized and constantly updated procedures are strongly improving productivity of MiBACT-SSBAR users in data/documents archiving, preparing, analysing, sharing and dissemination; this procedural approach also allows to progressively reduce the gap between the rapid increase of material archives and the formation of new digital archives and libraries, just now started at MiBACT-SSBAR, for an effective ubiquitous availability of data and information;
- MiBACT-SSBAR network connections pool: thanks to the cooperation with the Consortium GARR, it has been possible to link each other different offices and services of MiBACT-SSBAR, and connect them with other many users of GARR-X NREN; indeed, the release in 2013 of the early network connections based on high velocity and capacity optical fibres circuits, has finally allowed MiBACT-SSBAR to overcome the initial issues of available band-width and resulting capacity to deliver really affordable and resilient informational services; furthermore, the integration with GARR-X NREN communities also allows to reduce the digital divide between SITAR community users in terms of their skill, competences, real access to and availability of data, also thanks to some specific federated and user-oriented services supplied by GARR;
- the SITAR annual Conference: some issues related to the interaction forms between the MiBACT-SSBAR and its publics, have been addressed also by means of organization of the annual Conference on SITAR, since 2010 held at the National Archaeological Museum of Rome; this annual cultural event has rapidly become an important meeting for the archaeological sector, particularly with regard to some specific topics and themes, such as GIS applications for Cultural Heritage, preventive archaeology, territorial and landscape planning, data standardization, open source solutions, open data, open science, exploitation of cultural sites, publics involvement and engagement, etc.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
In order to continuously assess the evolution degree of the entire SITAR Project, MiBACT-SSBAR has carried out the following activities:
- steering committee periodic evaluations of the correct translation of elaborated theoretical and methodological framework into SITAR conceptual and data model, applications, procedures and more generally into the public web platform;
- periodic reports of design and implementation technical workgroup on enhancements and SITAR web modules improvements;
- monthly and weekly internal briefings for work-in-progress checks of implementation and definition of gradual releases of web tools and functionalities, and their degree of real integration;
- work meetings with researchers, academics and technical experts on SITAR development issues and items;
- continuous testing activities on different functional elements of the SITAR web platform;
- engagement and participation of a first internal/external test-users group in order to optimize the feed-back collection time;
- periodic newsletters sent to all internal scientific and technical personnel, and test-users to disseminate new achievements, reflections, ideas to be developed, etc., and collect feed-backs and important suggestions;
- annual Conferences on SITAR, as fundamental opportunities to meet other MiBACT institutes, public administrations, cultural heritage managers, researchers, academics, professionals, citizens and other stakeholders, and to share and evaluate in a wider and more effective way the SITAR projectual path, its early results and gradually the primary outcomes;
- participation to national and international conferences and meetings, as well as to the above mentioned european projects workgroups, in order to disseminate and compare theoretics, methodologies, technological approaches and practices;
- publication of SITAR Conferences Proceedings, papers, reports, etc., especially in on-line journals and social research platforms, such as Academia.edu and ResearchGate, and others;
- setup of an early version of SITAR Knowledge Base to store and disseminate contents, conceptual, theoretical and procedural documents and on line resources, distributed and shared also through Google Documents both in collaborative editing and web published versions;
- upkeeping of social web pages dedicated to SITAR Project on FaceBook;
- technical workshops and focus meetings dedicated especially to external professionals such as archaeologists, engineers, architects, other technicians and expert, and other stakeholders, to explain, share, disseminate and collect feed-backs on specific web applications, functions, procedures, etc.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Because of the lack of official policies and practices for webGIS platforms design and implementation, and of practical references for the creation and development of SITAR system, some critical problems had to be addressed with respect to effective availability of:
- dedicated funding schemas, both internal and external to MiBACT-SSBAR;
- institutional agreements oriented to share efforts and costs of implementation between more primary actors;
- dialogue skills between different domains and expertises involved, also with respect to internal/external scientific, technical and administrative personnel, their organizational routines and personal competences;
- technical and scientific expertises for specialistic software programming and data-entry activities;
- public territorial digital datasets and mapbases necessary to implement the SITAR cartographic repository;
- resilient and high velocity network connections for users and system servers.
With regard to all of these questions, the joint work of steering committee, technical workgroup, data-entry équipe and many volunteers users has allowed to achieve some fundamental results, such as:
- annual allocations of funds that have sustained this first seven-years period of development;
- signature of general agreements with public actors and other stakeholders that have fostered new shared feasibility analysis and project proposals for national and European funding opportunities;
- improvement of cross-domain competences of SITAR workgroup that have allowed a more fluid dialogue between its members, as well as between them and other internal/external MiBACT-SSBAR personnels and users;
- dynamic aggregation of technical and data-entry équipes that has guaranteed continuous updating of employed technologies, development and data production quality standards, and, moreover, equity in participation processes and job opportunities;
- signature of specific institutional agreements that have reduced economic impacts for public dataset and mapbases collection;
- setup of a pool of resilient and high capacity network connections that have improved interactions between MiBACT-SSBAR offices, services and internal/external users.