Memory institutions are facing increasing transfers of electronic documents and other media content for long term preservation. Data are normally stored in specific file formats for documents, images, sound, video etc. that are produced by software from different vendors. Even if the transferred files are in standard formats, the implementation of standards cannot be guaranteed. Conformance tests of transfers are done, but are not totally reliable. This poses problems in long-term preservation. Data objects meant for preservation, passing through an uncontrolled generative process, can jeopardise the whole preservation exercise.

The main objective of PREFORMA (PREservation FORMAts for culture information/e-archives) – a Pre Commercial Procurement project co-funded by the European Commission under its FP7-ICT Programme – is to give memory institutions full control of the process of the conformity tests of files to be ingested into archives, through the development of a set of tools which enable this process to happen within an iteration that is under full control of the institutions. This is in fact a basic requirement for memory institutions to be trustworthy in performing their preservation programmes.

The pre-commercial-procurement, following the rules for tenders in public sector, will match the memory institutions professional knowledge and the supplier’s skills in development and promotion of products, creating a win-win situation. Joint procurement enables PREFORMA to build a sustainable network of common interest, where the public procurers can remain in contact and cooperate beyond the EC funding period.

Target Users and Stakeholders

The network of common interest of PREFORMA will be set up with representatives from memory institutions, researchers and developers who are interested to contribute to the definition of the requirements and to take part in the assessment and the exploitation of the results produced by the suppliers. In particular:

Memory institutions and cultural heritage organisations coordinating or representing memory institutions, that are involved in (or planning) digital culture initiatives, and that are interested to use the tools develped in PREFORMA.

Developers contributing code for the PREFORMA tools as well as developers implementing the reference implementations in production software.

Research organisations providing technical and expertise advice to cultural stakeholders.

Standardisation bodies maintaining the technical specifications of the preservation formats dealed with in PREFORMA.

Funding agencies, such as Ministries of Culture and national/regional administrations, that own and manage digitisation programmes and may endorse the use of the PREFORMA tools in the digitisation process.

Best practice networks endorsing the use of open standards in creating and managing digital content.

Other projects in the digital culture, e-Infrastructures and policy arenas.

Call for Tender

Objective of the procurement

The main objective of the pre-commercial-procurement launched by PREFORMA is the development and deployment an open source software licensed reference implementation for file format standards aimed for any memory institution (or other organisation with a preservation task) wishing to check conformance with a specific standard. This reference implementation will consist of a set of modular tools, which will be validated against specific implementations of specifications of standards relevant to the PREFORMA project and used by the European memory institutions for preserving their different kind of data objects. In order to demonstrate effectiveness (and refine) these tools, they will be developed in an iterative process with multiple releases and with a number of experiments with 'real' data sets (files) from memory institutions during each iteration.

The media types covered by the tender are: documents, images and audio-visual records.

Areas which will be covered by the tools developed by PREFORMA are:

1. Preservation-relevant metadata (for documents, books, images and audiovisual records).

2. Particularly challenging types of digital objects (notably audiovisual records).

3. Integration of digital preservation requirements in existing systems in order to increase their resilience against technological changes.

Call Implementation

The total costs of the procurement amounts to 2,805,000 euro.

Six suppliers are planned to be selected at the end of the tender procedure (possibly two for each media type) to carry on the first design phase that lasts 4 months and completes with the ranking of the delivered designs. The suppliers of the best three designs (one for each domain) are requested to proceed to the prototyping phase, which includes two releases and the re-design phase and which lasts 22 months in total. The suppliers are then requested to proceed to the testing phase that lasts 6 months and which corresponds to the final testing with real data sets provided by the memory institutions.

Assessment of the results of each phase is carried out under the supervision of the respective WP Leaders and based on the competitive evaluation criteria published in the tender procedure.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes are the following:

The set modules (called “Abstract Conformance Checker”, “Scorer”, “Reporter”, and “Abstract Fixes Suggester/Correcter”) for the chosen each media type.

The Technical Reference of these modules and their API, to provide full information for the future integration of the modules in the actual workflow of the memory institutions.

A web application that provide the user interface to the 4 modules.

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