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Archives Video Appraiser (AVA) – Poster Presentation

The World Bank Group (WBG), founded in 1945, is the oldest and largest multilateral development bank in the world.  It is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development. With 189 member countries and more than 12,000 staff worldwide, the WBG works with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges.  

The WBG Archives provides the public with access to the archival holdings of the WBG along with engaging tools that enable the discovery of historical information. It also has fiduciary responsibilities for current records management and information governance within the WBG, made possible by policies, programs and services provided internally.

One of the responsibilities of the WBG Archives is to appraise the business, legal and research value of WBG records to identify records with permanent value and records that can be destroyed when no longer needed. The ever-expanding volume of uncategorized digital records makes the manual appraisal and selection of records increasingly labor-intensive and prone to mistakes. In 2021, WBG archivists and their IT counterparts developed a prototype to test the effectiveness of using Machine Learning (ML) technology to assist the Archives in the appraisal and selection of born-digital moving image records.

The poster introduces the results of this case study: the creation of the so-called Archival Video Appraiser (AVA), a ML tool that generates recommendations on which video recordings should be permanently preserved or destroyed based on a set of pre-defined appraisal criteria. Furthermore, AVA also automatically transfers the records to a designated folder based on the decisions.

Problem Statement

The exponential growth of digital content makes it hard, if not impossible, for the WBG Archives to appraise the vast volume of unclassified records that we receive into custody. An example are video recordings, of which we receive an average of 200 per month. Many of these recordings have permanent value according to our Retention Policies, while others need to be destroyed. Some recordings are transferred to our custody with promising and descriptive titles, but contain no sound or content (e.g., a meeting scheduled to be automatically recorded via Webex is cancelled and recorded anyway).

The process of human-driven appraisal of recordings requires the visual review of a one-minute segment of every video to ensure that there’s content and sound and to determine which retention rule applies. Archivists also use metadata, such as the title or the date of the recording, to support the decisions. Once decisions are documented, the archivist manually transfers the videos to different locations depending on whether they are eligible for ingest into the WBG’s digital preservation platform (internally named Digital Vault) or are ready to be destroyed.

The process takes about 2-person days per month and is prone to errors due to its very manual nature.

archives AVA presentation problem statement
Project Goal

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Our goal was to develop a tool to facilitate the appraisal of WBG moving image records and automate the staging of permanent videos for ingestion into the Digital Vault and the destruction of non-permanent videos when appropriate. Our objectives were to reduce decision making and transfer time and to increase the accuracy of appraisal decisions.