This chapter aims at defining a framework for the design of e-government services on cultural heritage. Starting from an analysis of three cases on digitisation of different types of cultural objects the authors highlight the problems existing in the creation of e-services on cultural heritage. These cases show the existence of four key issues in the development of this kind of information systems: digitisation, requirements engineering, standardization, and interoperability. The proposed framework addresses these issues focusing on the user requirements and the cultural object representation. Dynamic content exchange requires the use of a prescriptive framework for the development of cultural heritage Web sites. This chapter provides such a framework using observation from concrete applications and knowledge of information systems development methodologies.
The Lisbon strategy for eEurope (EU Report, 2008) and the following eEurope 2002, eEurope 2005, eEurope+ and i2010 strategies, drafted as results of the activities of the European Council aim at making the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with improved economy and social cohesion by 2010. In concrete terms this means broadband and high-level Internet based services for the entire population of the European Union. The means envisioned to achieve this goal are largely based on increasing both demand and offer of e-services respectively from the public/users and the providers. The problem has been framed as a “chicken and egg” problem and the solution has therefore been to address both ends: increase government-side services and create a friendly legislation for the implementation and sale of broadband connections (EU Report, 2008). This chapter focuses on the demand side, that is, on the development of the public electronic services.
On the demand side, electronic government initiatives involve providing services in e-Government, e-Learning, e-Health, and e-Business (EU Report, 2008). While the efforts of e-Government are focusing on providing services to citizens in order to achieve higher efficiencies through automation (tax filing, certification, electronic voting, information provision, etc) one other important area of investment regards the facilitation of access to cultural resources. The regional and local cultural heritage (to be defined in a broad sense, from museums to regional gastronomy and folklore) is one of Europe’s greatest economic assets, and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and other advanced technologies can dramatically increase the possibility of its exploitation. Until now the government initiatives for the divulgation of electronic material on the local cultural heritage have been varied in nature and include the creation of portals for information on cultural events which is the most common model of exploitation today, the digitisation of artwork for archives, the creation of virtual tri-dimensional museum visits with tri-dimensional digitisation of art works, and the rendering of archaeological visits in digital formats (Carugati, Hadzilias, & Demoulin, 2005).
Nevertheless the potential of using electronic services for cultural heritage applications is far from being fully exploited and many initiatives have remained at the stage of pilot projects. Of these pilot projects few are completed and most contain only one or very few examples of art digitisation. Until now, experiences of use of ICT in cultural heritage sectors too often fail in providing valuable economic results due to a number of problems, and have generated disappointment among the potential players and beneficiaries. The main problems have been: