Science Museum Group Director of ICT Jason Oliver was been steadily reinventing IT, and while the initiatives might not be considered groundbreaking in some sectors, his team is trying to push the boundaries in the tourism sector and provide innovation for SMG.
His biggest concern in 2017 (and probably for years to come) has been the museum's single-collection initiative, which involves moving 320,00 objects from a warehouse-type building that is being retired into the National Collections Centre. The key to the entire project has been the development of a digitisation solution that captures each object before it is moved and makes it available to the public via Collections Online on the web. The challenge was to develop a process that could digitise all the objects in just two years (around 1.5 minutes per object). The complete automation of the various components (image capture, image processing, metadata embedding, image upload, etc) removed all manual input, with AI used to ensure that records were complete.
Other notable achievements include the introduction of a CRM/ticketing platform to build up personalised relationships with what had been an anonymous audience for the free-to-enter museum. Over the past year, the museum has been able to collect data from nearly 1.5 million visitors, tailoring content to them. While the one-off tourist may benefit little, school trips and regular visitors do, as content can be sent out subsequent to a visit for deep dives into a topic, passing on relevant messages and helping raise science capital in individuals – the organisation's primary strategic objective.
Oliver and his team have also helped move the Science Museum away from an ageing, legacy on-premise technology estate and into a modern data centre with fit-for-purpose server/storage infrastructure without committing huge expense. They used a hyper-converged infrastructure within a private cloud to allow the museum to move its existing stacks in AWS and Azure about according to need at any given time and provide a disaster recovery capacity.
Finally, a machine-learning platform has been implemented to learn the normal behaviour of every device and user across the museum's networks, giving the system the ability to spot emerging threats that would have otherwise been missed. The technology allows the security team to focus on more strategic tasks rather than constantly monitoring.