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Mark Davis

Are You FADGI-Compliant? What You Need to Know

Keypoint Intelligence playing its part regarding how we store historical data

Aug 9, 2022 12:22:28 PM


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Photographs, records, facsimiles, and the like are cultural content that we take for granted. Whether we visit an interactive exhibition at a museum, look at ancestral records on the web, or simply search for a famous painting online—we expect the content to replicate the original as closely as possible. We also expect historical government records to be easy to use and access, replicating their physical, original form. Paper and ink (regardless of how it is stored) can decay over time, which is why good quality digital replicas are vital for their preservation.


Regardless of the type of digital replication, vast amounts of people depend on the quality of the end results to be able to carry out their tasks—wherever they are in the world—and poor-quality replications are not an option. This is where the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) standards come in. Helping to maintain the fundamental nature of historic and cultural media across the United States, FADGI compliance will shape the way we store, maintain, and interact with media.



What Is FADGI?

Established in 2007 as a collaborative initiative between federal government agencies, FADGI is designed to create a “common sustainable set of technical guidelines, methods, and practices for digitized and born digital historical, archival, and cultural content.” Although it continues to evolve, FADGI’s fundamental aim remains the same: to keep the accuracy, integrity, and fidelity of the historical documents intact.


FADGI is also helping to ensure that, as of December 2022, the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) and Office of Management and Budgets (OMB) will only accept digital material that meet the top-tier of FADGI guidelines. The program consists of three elements: Technical Guidelines and Parameters, Best Practices, and Digital Imaging Conformance Evaluation (DICE). When all three are implemented together, a FADGI-compliant environment exists, and OEMs can consistently review progress of their imaging hardware against the guidelines set out as part of the standards.


What Are the FADGI Standards?

To be deemed compliant, images and records must be assessed according to a set of technical guidelines and parameters. A star rating is then awarded, depending on the results of the tests:

  • One Star denotes images are not of sufficient quality for standard information processing techniques, but the image can be used as a reference to locate the original document.
  • Two Stars apply to images that have informational value only and will not progress to higher ratings due to the nature of their quality.
  • Three Stars indicate a good, professional image that can serve almost all use cases as well as be suited for optical character recognition (OCR) and reprint needs.
  • Four Stars represent the state-of-the-art in image capture capabilities and is suitable for use in all situations.


Although higher ratings relate to better and more consistent image quality, greater technical competency and better-quality equipment is also needed to fulfil the standard’s requirements for a higher rating.


What Is Keypoint Intelligence Doing to Help with FADGI Compliance?

As with most professional standards, compliance is the key factor in making sure they are being followed as closely as possible. We are keen to help OEMs in this space by devising a compliance and evaluation system that provides third-party validation of FADGI compliance for their imaging devices. Using GoldenThread software and specified test key point indicators, we can provide commentary on the star rating for each device we test, as well as the relevant raw data and a GoldenThread-created summary report for each device. This enables our OEM clients to access how their devices perform when compared to FADGI standard guidelines and enable them to examine (in detail) data relating to areas that may require improvement. We are currently working on projects with leading imaging vendors, helping to ensure that their FADGI compliance needs are met.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

The evolution of FADGI as the go-to standard for the replication and storing of historical and cultural content presents a great step forward in safeguarding important media for the future. It also helps to make content more readily available to those who need it, no matter their location. The phasing-out of analogue data in favor of digital alternatives will help to ensure that content can be validated for its reliability, accuracy, and accessibility whilst always maintaining a certain quality standard to help prevent decay.


With so much variety in the types of image reproductions available online, setting out a professional standard that everyone must adhere to will help to level the playing field in terms of image consistency. We can assist our OEM clients with FADGI compliance by working with them to provide detailed analysis on their hardware, helping them to remain consistent with their successes and sharing insight on how they can improve.


Are you just learning about FADGI compliance? Are you already waist deep in FADGI research? Want us to test your devices for FADGI compliance? Send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com—let’s talk about it!