The project codenamed PSYCHE (Protecting SYstem for Cultural HEritage) has been developed under the leadership of the Italian Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, in collaboration with INTERPOL.
PSYCHE will aim at enhancing and improving the exchange of information on stolen works of art at the global level, by modernizing INTERPOL's current Works of Art database and was submitted, on 18th october 2011, to the EUROPEAN ISEC PROGRAMME dedicated to the "Prevention Of And Fight Against Crime".
The main partners of the project are:
  • The Italian Carabinieri Specialized Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (CC TPC);
  • The Companies:
    • REPLY, ensuring the technical aspects of the project;
    • FORMEZ, to the administrative and financial matters;
  • The INTERPOL General Secretariat, NCB Rome and some other NCBs and Police Forces who supported the project;
  • And of course the European Commission, from whom funding has been requested.
The European legislative framework of PSYCHE are:
  • The 2008 EU Council Decision CRIMORG 166, ENFOPOL 191, n.14224/2/08, which Encourage INTERPOL to modernize its database with support from the EU;
  • The Council Decision 2007/125/JHA, which Establish the EC's programme "Prevention of and Fight against Crime";
  • The Council Framework Decision the 2006/960/JHA, which support the Simplification of the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the EU project.
PSYCHE, initially with a timeframe of 24 months but, because of some delay due to staff replacements and SW HW provision procedures problems, the project timeframe was changed to 33 months, bringing to a timetable elapsing.
The project has been developed in four main actions, which are all complementary, with the involvement of partners in respective identified activities:

The First action is the realizations of a Web formatted message.
The aim is to enable each member country to insert, modify and delete information on stolen artwork and associated events directly in the works of art database.
Previously, information was sent in by INTERPOL NCBs and data entry was performed at the General Secretariat by specialized staff.
The mechanism of the intended formatted message system is similar to the search on the Database but with the difference that the descriptive criteria are not sent to the DB for checking, but for the purpose of data integration.
Additional information have been added, most importantly the photograph in the object related part, and some administrative details of the case (place, country, date of theft, reference number etc.).
Precondition for this formatted message was the definition of the message exchange standard, such as the exact data structure, specified during the project meetings.
To complete the input procedures, two steps of validation / quality controls must be performed, at a national level prior to sending the information to IPSG, and a second time, at IPSG level.
Information is only released to the database and made available for searches, once the validation process has been completed.

The action 2 of PSYCHE is related to the Interoperability, that is the develop of a specific software interface to link "Leonardo", the italian Database of stolen cultural properties, and the Stolen WOA INTERPOL Database.
Specifically, at the end of a normal flow of data entry in the Italian database, the operator is able to automatically send the information needed to the INTERPOL DB, if it deems as appropriate. From a technical point of view, the automatic transmission consists of a data normalization and their formatting according to a specific standard and after that, a software agent transmits them by a secure WEB channel.
After the validation process explained earlier in action 1, information are definitely stored in the INTERPOL WOA Database.

Action 3. PSYCHE provided the INTERPOL Database with a specific software module (by LTU) aiming to enforce and facilitate the research of the stolen cultural properties stored, so increasing the possibility to recover them.
The automatic tool:
  • Finds images that are exactly the same or have been edited
  • Finds images that are visually similar in shape and color
The image comparison tool is integrated in the WEB INTERPOL interface allowing user to search by a simple upload.

The last action, the action 4, concerns the dissemination. Training activities, aimed at preparing the police Officers who will be using the system, has taken place both via remote sessions and at the Face to Face training event at the TPC site, in Rome.
The training has been provided also by:
  • an interactive e-learning platform with useful multimedia tools, accessible to all the countries inside and outside the EU.
  • and by the provision of seminars of information in EU countries who decided to be project partner.
Moreover, as part of the activities aiming at disseminating the results of PSYCHE, an Handbook and a video have been developed, providing the information to support the operator to use the PSYCHE system and to increase the competences of the operators.

The project should have lasted twenty four months. During the first year, the Action one and two should have been developed together but actually have lasted more, till to the third year.
During the second year of the project, the integration of the Image Comparison Tool started, with a survey of available technologies followed by the selection, integration and testing of the tool. In the same period the dissemination activities started (lasting till to the end of the project duration) and an e-learning platform was developed while Seminars and Workshops in partner countries were set up to the face-to-face briefings.