The City transformed the management and access to over 1 million archives and history resources, rationalising thirteen outdated systems into a single innovative user-centered digital solution that has been embraced by its communities.
Image: Original Letter from Thomas Edison, 5th June, 1882
Image: Archives - 60 Martin Place
The CAMPAS project was conceived in 2015 out of necessity. An audit had highlighted that the City’s key archives management system, introduced in circa 2000, was unsupported and becoming obsolete and this was a risk to the accessibility of the City’s information.
CAMPAS was conceived to replace ailing systems and to amalgamate as much archival information as possible into one user-friendly system.
A research survey demonstrated that users found it difficult to understand, and most simply avoided it. In fact, by 2015 it was only receiving 1000 hits a year, and most of these were likely to be archives staff.
In addition, the City was struggling to meet increased public demands for information, exacerbated by the introduction of the Government Information Public Access Act in 2009. Over 5000 requests for information were received yearly. Many request required the expertise of the Information Access or Archives teams to navigate the number and complexity of systems where information resided, many of which were not accessible to the public.
An effective, functional and efficient system for managing and publishing the City Archives Collection stands at the core of the work of the Archives Team.
The City took a pioneering approach when designing and implementing a new archives management system and public user portal. With the view that in this age of competition for attention with unprecedented volume of online information, adopting user-centred design is critical for archives to remain relevant and accessible in the 21st century.
The user centred design methodology involved initial phases of workshops to identify existing and potential user groups and what their needs might be. User groups includined staff, the media, historians, family history researchers, architects, heritage architects, developers, members of the public. Every decision made with a user lens:
All aspects of arrangement and description were reviewed and revised to ensure a better user experience. Now you can filter, search on anything from building plans to trams to a letter from Thomas Edison all in one place. You will find photos, documents, plans, files and people.
The records and data managed in this system are for the most part unique to the City and are legislatively required for permanent retention. The State Records Act, 1998 (NSW) in particular impacts to a significant level on the management of the City Archives.
•leveraged customer-centred design underpinned by extensive research into user wants and needs
•delivered a multitude of self-service pathways by which users of varying experience can access information
•challenged industry norms through complete overhaul of the data model, data, and metadata
•involved significant augmentation to data, for example geotagging 80,000 records
•delivered an all-in-one cloud solution, providing collection management, digital preservation, and a public access portal
•removed impediments to use, for example no charge for downloading high-resolution images
•delivered unprecedented analytics (via Power BI) into back-end management activities (e.g. digitisation, conservation, and cataloguing) to inform strategic planning decisions
•uses Google Analytics to identify continual evolution of the user experience.