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Home News EPFL booted from Venice Time Machine project 

EPFL booted from Venice Time Machine project 

Published on 24/09/2019

Switzerland’s involvement in the Venice Time Machine project has come to a screeching halt, much to the surprise of the Swiss university that has been partaking in the digital archives venture since 2013. 

The project was launched by Italy’s Ca’Foscari University and the Venice State Archive in partnership with Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). 

It aims to reconstruct the urban and social development of Venice throughout history by means of digitisation and analysis of a vast set of archive material. 

Hundreds of thousands of documents dating from the 16th to the 19th century can now be studied thanks to a series of prototype search engines using new methods for manual handwriting recognition. 

But the Venice State Archives wants to stop the project by suspending activities with EPFL, Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA reported. 

The Venice Time Machine methodology, already supported by several projects of the Swiss National Science Foundation and a European project, has now been extended to dozens of cities in Europe thanks to funding from the European Commission. 

EPFL surprise 

EPFL learned “with surprise” the news of the suspension of the project through the Venice State Archives’ press release on their website, she said on Monday. This press release was also sent by e-mail to the various Venetian institutions, but not to EPFL. 

Last Friday, a letter sent by e-mail to the Presidency of the Lausanne University of Applied Sciences and Arts indicated that the collaboration had been suspended.  

This decision potentially jeopardises several ongoing scientific projects and public access to the results of this research, according to EPFL, which hopes for a solution to keep the project afloat.