How the University of Hong Kong uses 100-year-old photo archives alongside current marketing content

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is over 100 years old. It has digitised assets from its long history including a century’s worth of photos, as well as an increasing amount of video footage from the past decade.

With such volume, HKU’s Communications and Public Affairs department realised the need to centralise their archives and provide access to departments across campus. They also needed a way of saving, managing and sharing current digital assets.

Before implementing a Canto digital asset management system, the team used cumbersome servers to store their content. These didn’t offer an organised structure that served the team. They had to either memorise dates that photos were taken, or rummage through the whole library to find what they were looking for.

Because specific content was so difficult to find, the team often created new materials instead of using what they had. It was easier and quicker for them to produce a new asset than to search through their current assets. This strategy wasn’t working for the team and resulted in a lot of lost time, and even more digital assets to manage.

Lillian Tam, who leads the multimedia team in the university’s Communication and Public Affairs Office, says: “It was difficult for us to find and reuse things. We tended to actually go capture new materials when we might already have old material that we can reuse. That’s why we started to look for a solution for how we can better navigate through the assets that we already have and then maybe reuse some materials. We knew that would save us a lot of time.”

Enter Canto: A digital asset management platform with the right functionalities

HKU turned to Canto’s digital asset management (DAM) platform for a simple reason – it had all the features and functionalities they needed.

In such a traditional university, it’s common to find team silos and low cross-departmental collaboration. With Canto’s DAM tools, it’s easy for Lillian and her team to unify and modernise content usage across the university with Portals.

“We made materials for Chinese New Year and shared that with each department’s marketing team within the university. They can go to the Portal and use our university assets to share on their platforms,” says Lillian.

Departments across campus are now able to quickly access the imagery they need without making individual requests to Lillian and her team.

“If I need to share assets to a number of people, the Portal allows them to all go to the same place, in the same interface. Historically, they sometimes had issues if I sent them links from different third-party hosts that required downloading before they can view the assets. And with Canto I didn’t even have to walk them through how to use it. They just click the link and can see our assets,” says Lillian.


The university is also often asked by the press for videos or imagery to accompany a story. With all up-to-date media-approved assets in one place, the team simply sends a Portal link to members of the press.

Results: Nurturing cross-departmental collaboration

The HKU Communications and Public Affairs department now has all of their content centralised and organised in Canto. They’ve increased workflow efficiency and now staff aren’t meticulously searching through assets or interrupting other team members to find assets.

“We have a go-to spot where the whole department has access to a central storage hub that contains multimedia files. Before, we always had to call someone and ask if they had the assets from so-and-so event after spending time unsuccessfully rummaging through a shared drive, and now we can just search for it,” says Lillian.

With more control over digital assets, team members know what assets the university has and are empowered to better utilise existing content. Using the right tools to manage digital assets  keeps everything in one place and puts a stop to working in silos.

Read the full University of Hong Kong case-study here:

DAM platforms offer a better way to unify and modernise content usage across your organisation. To learn more, watch our recent webinar:

If you missed the live webinar Image is everything with Canto, in partnership with Education Technology and University Business you can watch it on-demand here.

You’ll see expert guests from Canto, University College Dublin and Arden University discuss the importance of building a university brand, how to strengthen your visual identity, and how to ensure your marketing and communications teams can easily manage all the digital content associated with your brand

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