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MEMAT Platform

MEMAT can be made available in two ways – MEMAT Enterprise or MEMAT Cloud.


is a hassle-free cloud-based solution with speedy setup. We look after the infrastructure on your behalf with offsite backups. The economies of scale created by many organisations using this service means that this is a cost effective solution for smaller collections.

MEMAT Enterprise

MEMAT Enterprise is ideal for larger organisations with significant IT capacity and infrastructure, or organisations that have extensive digital collections, or require stringent security measures. The system is either installed on your own server infrastructure or we can source and install servers and tape backups systems for you.

MEMAT System Architecture

MEMAT has been developed using a number of subsystems that interact with one another. Some of these are essential and others are optional. The outcome is a highly flexible system that be easily scaled to handle any size of operation, whether hosted by Africa Media Online or installed on servers within an organisation.


The most fundamental concept we have worked with in developing MEMAT is the concept of layers. There are essentially three layers to the system:

Asset Management Layer

This is the heart of MEMAT. It is a highly sophisticated database system that can keep track of millions of files and tens of millions of lines of associated metadata and it can do this across distributed servers in multiple locations around the world or across your organisation. This layer includes sub-systems such as the MEMAT Digital Vault and the management of metadata schema. Most of this layer is unseen by users but is what makes MEMAT a model system that conforms very closely to the requirements of the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) the ISO standard for long-term archiving of digital media.

Presentation Layer

This is built on top of the Asset Management Layer and is the part of the system that you see. The Presentation Layer contains most of the functionality of the system that users interact with, for example user accounts, the ability to search and see results, the ability to make selections, the ability for the system administrator to gather material into galleries and the ability to order files or purchase use rights to files. This layer is constantly being improved. New functionality that is developed is brought to market as new releases from time to time. The Presentation Layer also integrates with other third party systems. For example MEMAT integrates with SugarCRM a customer relationship management system that helps you to manage all the contact details of the people who sign up on the system. It also integrates with CoolIris to present gallery slide shows and it can also integrate with the Capture accounting package ideal for working picture libraries.

Design Layer

When you get a new MEMAT site, this is the layer that is customised to fit with your branding and the look and feel that you want. This may be as simple as the top and bottom include (the design strips at the top and bottom of a MEMAT site), or it may be more sophisticated, having a unique splash page as the home page on your site or incorporating a blog or other custom pages. Really anything is possible here and MEMAT interfaces well with popular Open Source content management systems (CMS) such as Joomla, WordPress and Drupal. Because this is the customizable part of your MEMAT site, this is the part you pay a designer for and the size of that fee will depend on what you want. The Design Layer also means that if you have an existing web site with an existing look and feel, your MEMAT site can easily be customized to integrate seamlessly with it.


MEMAT has also been developed with the concept of sub-systems in mind. These sub-systems are stand-alone elements that interact with other sub-systems within the total system and may be integral to any one of the three layers explained above. Here are a number of the more prominent sub-systems that make up MEMAT.

MEMAT Digital Vault

The Digital Vault is the where the Digital Masters of all the media files (also known as digital assets) reside. Once a master file is ingested into the Vault it can never be changed. This is vital for ensuring authenticity. The Digital Vault can also track multiple versions of the same file and a later version can supercede an earlier one. Within the Vault, media is kept in units called “Security Boxes” that can be backed up to write once media.

MEMAT Backup Server

The Backup Server ensures the backup of the contents of the Digital Vault to either to writable media, such as LTO tapes or write-once media, such as DVDs or Blue Ray, or both.

MEMAT Metadata Manager

The Metadata Manager was developed with real world metadata management in mind. Most media collections are not perfect and there may be multiple overlapping metadata schema in operation in a single collection, let alone multiple collections. The Metadata Manager is able to work with multiple schemas, map related fields across schemas and even attribute priority to certain schemas over others.

MEMAT Thesaurus Manager

The Thesaurus Manager has been built to manage a controlled vocabulary of terms. It has been used to manage the multilingual African Archival Thesaurus (AAT). The AAT is based on the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus and has been Africanized by Africa Media Online and translated into the major trade languages of Africa.

MEMAT Web Interface

The Web Interface makes up most of the Presentation Layer and incorporates a decade of experience in user interface design in working with media files online.



MEMAT forms part of the Digital Trade Route provided by Africa Media Online.

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