News Release

RITHMS, the new EU-funded project focused on technology to tackle illicit trafficking of Cultural Heritage

Funded by the European Union, the project is coordinated by Arianna Traviglia, Director at IIT’s Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology in Venice

Business Announcement

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia - IIT

Venice (Italy), 22nd December 2022 - Four police authorities, two border agencies, a police academy, companies and research institutes with expertise in the field of Cultural Heritage and technologies concerning integrated telecommunication systems and IT security protocols. This is the Consortium coordinated by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT-Italian Institute of Tecnology) involved in RITHMS (Research, Intelligence and Technology for Heritage and Market Security), a project funded by the European Union. RITHMS aims to enhance, with the help of the most innovative technologies, the operational capacity of police forces and customs and border authorities in tackling the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, while investigating the mechanisms behind this phenomenon.

The illicit trafficking of Cultural Heritage has upgraded from a local phenomenon, limited to the initiative of a few individuals, to a highly organised activity, a highly profitable source of income for criminal organisations and terrorist groups that have exploited the opportunities offered by the web and social media to further expand an already flourishing market.  In this context, RITHMS proposes an interdisciplinary approach, also made necessary by the transnational nature of this type of crime, which will range from art market analysis to criminology, from legal studies to forensic science. The goal is the development of an artificial intelligence-based platform that will allow to identify organised criminal networks and to provide investigators with valuable information on their activity and possible evolution. In particular, the platform will exploit the potential of Social Network Analysis (SNA), a methodology that allows to better understand the behaviour of people involved in illicit trafficking through their online reactions and interactions.

The project received 5 million euros in funding from the European Union, under the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme [agreement n. 101073932]. The project’s coordinator is Arianna Traviglia, Director at IIT’s Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology in Venice (Italy).

“The broad Consortium will ensure that the RITHMS project will benefit from an articulated spectrum of expertise - explains Arianna Traviglia - relying on partners who are specialised in both information technology and legal and cultural sciences. Besides, the participation of such a variegated group of law enforcement agencies, from different countries, will allow to set the RITHMS digital platform on robust and detailed procedural and legal information, and to adapt and validate its functionalities at a supranational level."

The partners list includes: Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy, coordinator), StAG srl (Italy), VTT - Technical Research Centre of Finland (Finland), European Software Institute - Central Eastern Europe (Bulgaria), RiniGARD DOO ZA USLUGE (Croatia), Houston Analytics (Finland), BEIA Consult International srl (Romania), SatCen - European Union Satellite Centre (Spain), Universidade da Coruña (Spain), Hochschule für den öffentlichen Dienst in Bayern (Germany), European Institute Foundation (Bulgaria), Italian Ministry of Defence with the Comando dei Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale (Italy), Spanish National Police (with the Brigada de Patrimonio Histórico), National Police of the Netherlands, Bulgarian Border Police, Moldavian Police, Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Involved also as Affiliated Entity the association Art Crime Project-APS (Italy), and as Associated Partner Conceptivity sarl (Switzerland).

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