Digital Asset Collaborative (DAC)

What is DAC?

The Digital Asset Collaborative (DAC) is for managing finished digital assets produced in the course of or for use in Official University Business, specifically in the areas of marketing, communications, academics, and research. Having a central, well-managed system benefits all stakeholders in terms of diversity of representation, efficiency, and enhanced visibility across units.

We are also working to cultivate a community of practice around digital asset management including metadata at U-M. Follow #digital-asset-collective on Slack for updates about workshops, added features, and other resources. ITS maintains a set of DAC resources pages.

Recommended Practices

Digital image assets uploaded to DAC must meet the following three requirements:

  1. Official University Business:  current and relevant assets aligned with university brand and visual style.
  2. Final: this means the finished, usable version of an asset. No elements, raw files, or contact sheets.
  3. Approved: this may look slightly different across units, but generally speaking, this means that files have already been edited, color-corrected, and curated; the “selects” approved assets for use in official university communications. If an image or logo should not be used in marketing, editorial, communication, or instructional materials, it should not be placed in DAC.

Examples of Assets belonging in DAC:

  • Photos from Presidential Inauguration to be used in communications.
  • Upcoming and recent marketing campaign photos and images.
  • Documentary imagery of current events on campus.
  • Promotional images highlighting your unit with appeal to general audience.
  • Content created for unit social media purposes that could be re-posted by campus-wide Social Media channels.

Assets not belonging in DAC:

  • Sensitive information.
  • Anything violating U-M Policies.
  • Contact sheets.
  • Camera Original/RAW files.
  • Multiple versions of the same content with negligible differences (for more information about Curation, see below).

Curating the assets prior to ingestion reduces redundancy and improves the overall user experience of DAC.  Ask yourself these questions when choosing assets: How many images from a given event are actually needed? Do these assets remain relevant and useful for official University business?

Too many assets will make it harder for users to locate the best ones. Thinking about curation at the beginning of the creative process can help make briefs more specific, guiding photographers to be judicious when capturing content and making selects.

Doing a final pass to further refine the selects will help ensure the best images are always used in campaigns. Culling less useful images right away, when the event is fresh in your mind, is ideal.

If there are multiple poses with minute differences, choose images in which the following are true:

    1. The subject looks their best and has a pleasant facial expression.
    2. Nothing obscures the subject’s face (microphone, shadows, hands).
    3. Group photos feature the majority of subjects looking at the camera.
    4. Focus is sharp and exposure is balanced.
    5. Candid photos convey a sense of energy and dynamism.

There are many options for culling and curating photographs, including using AI. Stay tuned for more information about this!

Curation also prompts consideration of how long images should be in DAC. Scheduling periodic reviews to ensure that the content in DAC is always pertinent, accurate, and high-quality.

The asset lifecycle describes the movement of assets − photos, logos, videos, illustrations, and other creative content − from vision to archive, and typically comprises the following phases:




Presently, DAC is primarily focused on steps “2. Manage” and “3. Share.”

Tools for archiving and expiring assets − making “4. Preserve” a core feature − are on the way.

Also coming soon: integrations with several creative and content management (CMS) software programs. Stay tuned!

Having accurate, robust, and consistent metadata is critical to the success of DAC. The quality of the metadata determines the success of the platform in terms of searching and accessing the best assets.

Further guidance and specifications for metadata in DAC.»

The overall purpose of DAC is to be a collaborative sharing platform, not merely a storage repository. It is structured in such a way so as to both manage your unit’s assets, as well as facilitate cross-pollination and sharing across campuses.

Assets with generic or broad appeal, or those depicting scenes of your unit that could be picked-up should be made available “System Wide” so that we can all be prudent stewards of U-M resources.


If you have any questions, or to begin the DAC onboarding process please reach out here.