EPOCH was a Network of Excellence (funded from March 2004 to March 2008) joining academic, research and cultural institutions to improve the quality and effectiveness of the use of IT for Cultural Heritage. Partners endeavoured to overcome the fragmentation of current research in this field, which may undermine the effectiveness of clusters of research centres, such as those managing European-funded research; affect the “pipeline”, i.e. the production of valuable communication from scientific data; or limit the interdisciplinary dialogue among scientists with different background. EPOCH addressed such issues by aiming at durable integration, eliminating bottlenecks in the pipeline, and fostering interdisciplinary co-operation.
Apart from the management of the project, EPOCH’s work was organised in three workpackages – “Integrating Activities”, “Jointly Executed Research” and “Spreading Excellence”. These are led by Daniel Pletinckx (Visual Dimension, Belgium), Luc van Gool (KU Leuven, Belgium) and Franco Niccolucci (PIN, University of Florence, Italy).
The University of Brighton’s role in EPOCH
The University of Brighton was the coordinator of EPOCH, and contributed in several areas of the Joint Program of Activities. The University has experience in the modelling of cultural heritage sites and the real-time rendering of visitor experiences; in multi-lingual systems; in modelling of economic impact of commercial operations on regional economies; in sustainable tourism (particularly eco-tourism); and in stimulation of SME clusters. These contributions were drawn from the Faculty of Management and Information Sciences (including Computing, Maths and Information Sciences (which includes the Natural Language Technology Group), the Brighton Business School and the School of Service Management (which includes Tourism).
The EPOCH Team
Brighton Business School (BBS) and the School of Service Management (SSM)
BBS was heading a Workpackage that looks at the socio-economic impact of cultural heritage sites with specific reference to ICT. The BBS research team is headed by Jim McLoughlin and combines a varied range of skills including economics, strategy, technology and heritage. The research group runs the highly successful Heritage Impact conferences, which allow the latest European research on impact, strategy, value and heritage regeneration to be disseminated to the cultural heritage sector. The research has led to the creation of the CUBIST (Cultural Business – Impact, Strategy and Technology) research and consultancy group. The School of Service Management has sectoral interests in Travel, Tourism, Hospitality and Retail, with extensive applied research and consultancy activity. The Tourism group, led by Professor Peter Burns, and comprising four staff, will contribute to EPOCH in the area of cultural identity.
School of Computing, Mathematical and Information Sciences in the Faculty of MIS.
In CMIS the Cultural Informatics group undertook research in a variety of aspects of the use of ICTs in Cultural Heritage, focussing on the creation and usability of interactive experiences for providing access to cultural heritage information to the public and on the tools to allow cultural heritage professionals to research, author and archive cultural heritage data. As part of this activity the group collaborates with the NLTG (below).
The Natural Language Technology Group (NLTG)
The Natural Language Technology Group (NLTG) is a research group in the School of Computing Mathematical and Information Sciences (CMIS) at the University of Brighton. Researchers in NLTG are interested in exploring ways in which computer technology can be applied to problems which involve the use of natural languages (human languages, like English, French and Chinese). We are particularly interested in Statistical Generation, Lexical Representation, Multilingualism and Natural Language Systems and Architectures.
The Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM)
CENTRIM led the work on encouragement of SMEs in the sector by using clusters to support development of the sector, under the leadership of Prof. Howard Rush. CENTRIM has a long history of related work in the analysis and support of clusters of companies in various sectors.
For more information on EPOCH see http://www.epoch-net.org/