Arolsen Archives’ #everynamecounts project uses artificial intelligence to help uncover information about victims of Nazi persecution

The project has the support of volunteers and digital technology from Accenture

KRONBERG, Germany & BAD AROLSEN, Germany, April 27, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A team of Accenture (NYSE: ACN) volunteers has created an artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution that helps extract information about victims of Nazi persecution from documents in the Arolsen Archives 40 times faster than previous efforts

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Accenture’s AI solution captures handwritten and printed documents about victims of Nazi persecution for Arolsen Archives’ #everynamecounts project. Copyright © Arolsen Archives 2022

The Arolsen Archives preserve the largest collection of documents on the Nazi persecution in the world: 110 million documents and digital objects, a part of which are part of the UNESCO Memory of the World program, to keep alive the memory of the crimes of the German terrorist regime. An essential part of the Archives’ work is to make these documents accessible to all who wish to search for traces of victims and survivors of the Holocaust, persecution of minorities, and forced labor.

Every document kept on file must be reviewed and its information (for example, family name and date of birth on a prisoner registration form) placed in a database. To facilitate this process, Arolsen Archives established “#everynamecounts”, a crowdsourcing project for volunteers to manually extract information from documents.

Translating, reading, transcribing, cataloging, and validating these documents by hand could take decades. Each document is independently indexed by three volunteers, and if the entries do not match, an Arolsen Archives employee reviews them for accuracy. Indeed, it may take up to four people to index and validate four documents in one hour.

Ian Lever, an Accenture volunteer and member of the company’s Jewish Employee Resource Group, quickly realized that AI could speed up this process significantly. Within 10 weeks, he and other Accenture volunteers set up an AI solution to index the documents. Because AI captures information faster and increases its accuracy, four volunteers can now validate approximately 160 documents in an hour, a 40-fold increase in productivity.

Working with Accenture’s Solutions.AI team, volunteers configured an existing Accenture AI solution, which uses optical character recognition and machine learning technology. It indexes documents that are particularly difficult and tedious for humans to extract. These include prisoner and transfer lists with dozens of rows, concentration camp records, and tracing documents, which are inquiries about the location and fate of relatives and loved ones.

Although the AI ​​does the heavy lifting, human oversight of the process is still important not only to ensure accuracy, but also to keep the AI ​​solution learning. By reviewing and correcting the information, volunteers “teach” the solution to recognize handwritten characters and abbreviations typical of the time. Thanks to your input, the AI ​​has gradually improved its accuracy by 10% within the “mother’s last name” form field. For the “religion” field, the AI ​​is now operating with 99% confidence.

Since Accenture implemented the AI ​​solution in December 2021, the solution has indexed more than 160,000 names of victims of Nazi persecution, extracted information from more than 18,000 documents, and grouped more than 60,000 documents into similar groups to improve the identification and analysis.

More than 950 Accenture people have volunteered for the project to date, and Accenture is also supporting the maintenance and further development of the AI ​​solution.

“We are proud of the efforts of our people to help keep alive the memories of those who endured unimaginable pain and suffering, at a time when anti-Semitism, racism and ultra-nationalism are once again rearing their ugly heads,” David said. Metnick, managing director and executive sponsor of the project at Accenture. “We saw a problem and, in it, an opportunity to live our values ​​and use digital technology for good.”

“We are overwhelmed by the number of volunteers supporting the digitization of our archive,” said Floriane Azoulay, director of the Arolsen Archives. “Our collaboration with the Accenture team stands out. It’s great that there is now a digital solution to capture the content of documents faster, helping to ensure that the most important information about the fate of victims of Nazi persecution can be find in our online archive”.

Learn more about how Accenture volunteers have helped #everynamecounts.

About Accenture
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About the Arolsen Archives
The Arolsen Archives is the international center on Nazi persecution with the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of National Socialism. The collection has information on about 17.5 million people and belongs to the UNESCO Memory of the World. It contains documents on the various groups of victims of the Nazi regime and is an important source of knowledge for today’s society.

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Jens Derksen
+49 175 57 61393
[email protected]

dr Anne Munster
Arolsen Archives
+49 5691 629 182
[email protected]

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