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How a Dedicated Digital Asset Management Platform Can Assist You in Creating a Secure Central Photo and Image Archive A short overview of good practice for those looking to create an image archive for their organisation. This guide includes the beneďŹ ts a dedicated digital asset management platform can offer and common considerations you should make along the way.


Since the birth of digital cameras in the 1990s, photography is no longer reserved for special occasions, it is a part of daily life. Developments in mobile device technology effectively means that we carry high end cameras with us everywhere we go. This, coupled with the reduced cost of digital storage, means we can now take pictures without the worry of finite storage space. The benefits of digital photography have been dramatic, but it has also created additional challenges, mainly centred around the management and distribution of these large quantities of images. Most organisations have a basic means of managing their images and photos - for the majority this will be simple shared folders on a network drive. This is not a great long-term strategy from either a practical or security perspective. One computer hardware failure could result in an organisation losing many years’ worth of images. This short guide will explain some of the common terms used within the digital photographic ecosystem, highlight issues educational organisations face when archiving images, and illustrate the benefits a dedicated digital asset management system offers.


Common Terminology Explained

DAM - Digital Asset Management A program or platform that offers enhanced and extensive features dedicated to the handling and organisation of digital assets.

JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group Today’s most common image file format, mainly due to the fact that it offers reduced file sizes, with very little degradation to the image quality.

TIFF - Tagged Image File Format An early graphic file format that is still commonly used.

RAW Refers to the unprocessed data of a photograph captured by a digital camera sensor. Most cameras will automatically convert the RAW image into a processed format such as JPEG, as these are more readily recognised by common computer applications. More advanced digital SLR cameras will give you the option to record the RAW image and is the preferred format for professionals. They can control the processing of the image and are able to adjust certain settings without the use of post-processing techniques (e.g. filters), thus maintaining the original quality. RAW images tend to be large files and therefore not all digital asset management systems will process these. The file size is also worth bearing in mind when calculating the amount of disk space required for storage, especially if looking at cloud options.

Technical Metadata Information embedded within the image file created by the camera. This information could include height, width, lens, camera model, GPS location, etc. This technical metadata is recorded using the Exchangeable Images File Format (EXIF). It is expected that a digital asset management system would import technical metadata as standard.

Descriptive Metadata Information to describe the image, which is then used for finding the required images during a search. With a dedicated photo handling system this would usually take the form of a tagging feature and may also be assisted via AI engines, such as object recognition.

Geo Tagging Modern cameras embed the GPS location of where the photo was taken into the recorded EXIF data of the image. This is extremely useful if you use a digital asset management platform, as it should enable you to search for photos using map locations.

AI Assisted This refers to the use of machine learning to assist humans within an application. When included as part of an image management platform, AI systems can analyse images for certain elements, such as objects when they are ingested. This new metadata catalogue can then assist users when searching.


The Key Problems Educational Organisations Face when Reviewing Platforms for Organisation of Their Images

Security

Access

This has always been a major factor for all educational organisations, but with the introduction of new legislative regulations like GDPR, security of student data is imperative. Any implemented platform should require authentication, and platform providers should be able to provide evidence that their platform and company operations will keep your data safe, especially for any cloud-based platforms.

Controlling your users’ access is crucial to the success of a central image library and enhances your security provision. A structured authenticated approach enables administrators to control what features, tools and content is available to key user groups. For example, student access can be controlled by forcing moderation prior to publication.

How to Organise Your Images

Responsiveness

Libraries of other media types tend to be organised via a category structure, however, this method is not as effective when faced with large volumes of files such as photos. A photo library enables you to create your own series of image tags for reference purposes. Additional information such as EXIF data also enhances the richness of the tagging database, assisting users in finding images.

Large photo libraries hold vast quantities of data, however, scrolling through this volume can cause issues in displaying images quickly. This is mainly due to the bandwidth required. A slow system can be incredibly frustrating for end users, which tends to be a pitfall when using shared drives because each time an image is viewed, the full resolution photo needs to be loaded.

Sharing

Preservation of Assets

The whole point of having one central library of photos is to make it quick and easy to find and subsequently share your images. Shared local drives will allow internal sharing, but sharing with parents and the wider community is restricted.

Preserving the original quality of your image is important. Some free online image library services create lower resolution web-based images and do not keep the original, mainly to save on disk space and reduce costs.

Consent & Licensing Making sure marketing teams are aware of how they may use images is important for any organisation. Most images require consent, usually by the people featured in the photograph, and some images may be covered by licences such as ‘Creative Commons‘ that require attribution. An implemented platform should include options for marking content with appropriate licences and allow you to get sign-off for usage via digital onscreen consent forms.


How a Dedicated Digital Asset Management Platform Can Help Secure Access A must-have for educational organisations storing photos of their students, making sure all users are authenticated, and delivering controlled and restricted access to the platform. If you are planning to contract with a software platform provider for image management, it is crucial that you ask for GDPR compliance documents and any other security certifications, such as evidence of PEN testing or Cyber Security Essentials certification.

Usability A dedicated image management platform is designed specifically for handing large quantities of images. This provides an enhanced user experience, delivering a responsive and easy to use platform, with the flexibility to accept all image file formats, including RAW, JPEG and TIFF.

Sharing A central library for photos makes it easier to store, manage and locate your images, it also provides simple mechanisms to share them with other platforms and websites. Sharing can take the form of links, embed codes and bespoke plugins. Educational organisation get huge value from being able to share images with their VLE, parent portal, website and even digital signage displays.

Simplicity for All Users Staff and student engagement is imperative to the success of a platform. All technical abilities need to be catered for so users can easily add their images and find them when they need to. A simple UI that is device agnostic, along with the integration of modern technologies like AI, can help to assist and enhance the user experience.

Editing Tools Most image handling platforms offer automatic enhancements, however, there is still a need for tools that enable users to manually crop and rotate. In addition, it is also extremely useful to collate images into temporary folders; these can be used to create and share ad-hoc galleries and slideshows.

Retain Image Quality As with any library, physical or digital, preservation is fundamental. A true image management system will generate a web version of each uploaded image to make browsing and searching responsive, whilst keeping the original file intact for archiving purposes.

Batch Uploading Tools Transferring your existing library of photos to a dedicated image management platform can be daunting, mainly due to the anticipated time required. Some platforms will offer transfer tools that enable you to batch upload and simultaneously tag content - making the process so much easier. Look out for this feature when considering a platform.

Back Up Protocol If you are looking at a cloud service for your images, then it is always good practice to exercise due diligence with regards to the back up policy and economic stability of your provider – you need to know that your precious image library is in safe hands. As an organisation you are generally responsible for the data back up of platforms hosted on your own network hardware and infrastructure (locally hosted).


Planet eStream is the only platform that unifies all of your digital media requirements. It has been chosen by over 2,000 educational establishments from all over the globe to support their core digital strategy and drive digital transformation, delivering significant benefits to educators, e-learning professionals, communications and marketing departments, librarians, learning resources teams, IT staff and, most importantly, students.

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Creating a Secure Central Photo and Image Archive  

A short overview of good practice for those looking to create an image archive for their organisation. This guide includes the benefits a de...

Creating a Secure Central Photo and Image Archive  

A short overview of good practice for those looking to create an image archive for their organisation. This guide includes the benefits a de...