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Archant awarded Google grant to fund archive digitisation & advanced voice infrastructure

Archant has received a grant worth £600,000 from Google’s Digital News Initiative.

The grant is to fund a new project, Local Recall, which will see Archant digitise its archive content dating back to 1870 using manual enhancement via community text editors. Then, working in conjunction with artificial intelligence focused start up Ubisend, to create a fully voice activated service.

This innovative approach directly addresses the major challenge to the regional media of having its core currency of content, especially its archive material, largely inaccessible in its current format.

Local Recall will take content digitisation further by making the original and unique content from its regional press archive available, not just in plain text, but also voice.

After the process Archant’s content will be available in all the various formats modern consumers require: on demand via chatbot, voice bot, home assistant and the more ‘traditional’ dynamic, mobile-first, website. 

Due to the age and nature of some of the archive material and the need for high accuracy, the Local Recall initiative will also use the power of Archant’s community of readers by building a crowdsourced content correction platform allowing correction to the content via multiple channels.

This makes the Local Recall project a true community engagement tool, helping readers form stronger links to the heritage of their local communities in an increasingly diffuse world.

Jeff Henry, CEO of Archant said: “This is an extremely exciting project for Archant, allowing us to celebrate and realise the value of our rich history, while reinforcing our commitment to innovation and progress. Installing the ability to apply natural language understanding to our content and enabling readers to access and query our content via voice promises a very exciting digital future for us.”

Lorna Willis, digital acceleration director of Archant said: “Regional media has unrivalled expertise in local content creation and in Archant’s case since 1870. The Local Recall project will ensure that this content becomes ubiquitous and available however the consumer wants it from text to voice.” 

Local Recall is scheduled to be live in 2018.

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