A Digital Asset Management System To Create Social Cohesion

CoGhent is a digital museum of more than 75.000 historical assets of Ghent. It is an initiative by the city of Ghent, Design Museum Ghent, and District09.

The collection includes images, videos, physical objects, written documents, and more. The historical assets and artworks are from the Archive of Ghent, Design Museum Ghent, House of Alijn, Industrial Museum, and STAM.

CoGhent uses elody as a digital asset management system to visually represent digital assets in a virtual museum and a public website.

CoGhent Box | A virtual museum

CoGhent Box is a digital experience space that moved from Wondelgem to Watersportbaan-Ekkergem and Sluizeken-Tolhuis-Ham in the spring of 2023.

this is an image of CoGhent Box

The box brings the historical items and art to life using visuals with a narrative story. Visitors can choose assets they are interested in on a public website and will receive a QR code. They can scan this code in the box, which generates a story.

this is an image of CoGhent public website

Visitors can discover, experience, and share Ghent’s history with others. CoGhent-box now takes its temporary placement in The Krook in Ghent and will later be moved to the Design Museum of Ghent.

The goal is to modernize history, bringing historical items and art into an open, online environment accessible to everyone. A city’s heritage should be recognized and celebrated. CoGhent provides an innovative way to do so.

Citizens are also able to upload their items on the website. This feature will stimulate participation among the people of Ghent. The project also aims to use history and art to strengthen social cohesion among the citizens in the region of Ghent.

Our technological solutions

CoGhent combines various types of historical assets from different museums in Ghent. CoGhent needed one uniform platform to store, organize, manage, and retrieve digital assets such as images, videos, audio files, documents, and other multimedia content.

A faster system with a clear status overview

Our system is the first of its kind, consisting of micro-services and event-driven architecture working through Linked Data. It means that the DAMS has individually developed and independent services. Each service focuses on a specific function, and they communicate with each other through APIs. In other DAM solutions, often two servers are necessary to process the data. In those two servers, all APIs are combined. Our DAMS has different APIs responsible for only their specific task.

For example, the collection API will do all things metadata-related, while the storage API manages all files. This system makes it easier to make alterations because you can change the coding on a specific server directly instead of altering the coding of one combined server.

this is an image of the dams services

We designed the system to let events trigger the exchange of messages between different components or services in the system. Events can be any occurrence or change in the system, such as a user interaction, a sensor reading, or a database update. Systems can be more loosely coupled and easily adapted to changing requirements by using events to trigger communication between services.

Another labor-saving feature is the job system. This system makes it possible to trace back all changes made in the DAMS, making it easy to check where processes went wrong in case of an error.

this is an image of the jobsystem

Linked Data to connect all museums in Ghent

Our DAMS solution uses the abstract concept of entities instead of assets to create smart profiles based upon linked data (More info). The usage of linked data made it possible to connect the artwork of all the museums in Ghent.

Moreover, this feature is valuable for CoGhent users to see all related data to an asset they are watching. The data has no predefined categories, like age, author and material. The benefit is that this metadata doesn’t need to be structured as well as before. The linked data will simply display all information available on a specific asset.

this is an image to edit meta data

For example, a vase will have different metadata than an article. Measurements will be included in the metadata of the vase, while a paper article won’t have such metadata.

Fast online representation via IIIF

IIIF is an open standard for dealing with images (and other media files), ensuring better interoperability with other systems.

The pictures displayed on the CoGhent website are always high-resolution so that they are clear and sharp. However, displaying them in this format on the website isn’t efficient, as it would slow down the speed dramatically and requires too much mobile data. IIIF makes the efficient display of these images possible, as well as other features such as the zoom-in function.

this is an image of zooming in

Results and Impact

The CoGhent-Box traveled through three regions of Ghent meeting its goal of stimulating interaction between people. The CoGhent inniative resulted in +3500 custom stories created our of +75.000 cultural assets.

A prefect example of social cohesion creation was at the box’s first stop. On the parking of an elderly home in Wondelgem, teachers came to visit the box with their classes. Students started interacting with the elderly, sharing their thoughts about the displayed stories in the box.


Elody is highly flexible and customizable according to customers’ needs, allowing additional services to be added or removed at any time.

Existing services can easily be extended and reused, making it a suitable solution for organizations of different sizes and needs.

The system can manage any asset, from books to videos to IoT devices. Data can be understood and managed universally by using linked open data. In addition, it is easier to analyze, combine and integrate assets.

We believe collecting and displaying historical artifacts is essential for preserving the history of a city. It educates its citizens and visitors and provides valuable resources for researchers and scholars.

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