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IBM helps the Egyptian Government preserve national archives

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The project to help preserve and document the heritage of the National Archives of Egypt has created one of the largest digital archives in the world, with over twenty-five million records, representing over ninety million documents.

Dr_Tarek_Kamel.jpgThe project is the outcome of a joint cooperation between the Ministry of Culture, represented by the National Library and Archives of Egypt, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, represented by the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage.

IBM has also helped to create an official website for the National Archives of Egypt which provides on-line access to a selection of the archive material, most of which is in Arabic language. This website, which is equipped with a powerful search engine, is designed to be an educational resource for historians and researchers around the world. It also provides information on seminars organized by the NAE.

“This is a major project that aims to increase Arabic content on the internet,” said Dr Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “Statistics show that there is still an inefficient contribution of content from the Arab world on the internet, which contradicts the Arab nation’s capabilities and cultural diversity.”

The project has also provided more efficient access to the research room of the National Archives of Egypt at its premises in Cairo. Previously, the research room relied on paper-based processes for the indexing and borrowing of archive material. The newly-renovated research room is equipped with fifty-six computer terminals which provide researchers with secure, on-line access to the database. The whole process is automated helping the NAE to more easily locate files and decrease the time required to access them from one day to ten minutes.

“With important projects like this one, alongside Eternal Egypt and the Egypt Memory project, we are proud of the role we are playing, using advanced technologies to link past, present and future and help ensure the world benefits from Egypt’s great cultural heritage,” said Amr Ghoneim, Country General Manager, IBM Egypt.

The size and magnitude of the project, which has resulted in the creation of over 2000 government jobs, has required the latest technologies and smart work solutions from IBM. Amongst the challenges of the project were:

— Applying the latest innovative methods for the digitization and
indexing of files. Workers from the National Archives of Egypt have
been trained to extract key metadata from documents like title,
subject, keywords, creator and date etc. This information is recorded
using digital audio technology before being converted into typed text
to aid indexing and easier on-line searching.
— Building the NAE digital scanning laboratory which is designed to scan
ten million high resolution documents in five years using customized
applications developed by IBM.
— Maintaining the security and integrity of documents against copying or
distortion using digital watermark technology.
— Creating business models and processes to ensure the highest levels of
quality control.

The agreement between IBM and the Egyptian government was signed in June 2005 and the implementation phase of the project is now complete. During the project, IBM depended on close cooperation with its local partners Allied Soft and SI (System Integrator).

The project has required the close collaboration of IBM’s hardware, software and services divisions. IBM services teams were responsible for the management of the project as well as the implementation and maintenance of systems. Hardware includes four IBM System x servers and tape storage system. The database relies on IBM DB2 and WebSphere technology and IBM Content Manager and Tivoli Storage Manager are used for the information management of the system.

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