A consortium including five national archives and government IT modernisation programs in Spain and Portugal is to develop solutions that will allow Europe's national archives to keep records authentic as well as usable. The system will be made available publicly, and software will be published as open source. The E-Ark project (European Archival Records and Knowledge Preservation) was given a 2.9 million euro grant from the European Commission. The three-year project was launched this Tuesday at a meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.
The consortium includes the national archives of Denmark, Hungary, Estonia, Norway and Slovenia. Also part of the team is the DLM Forum, which develops the MoReq2 standard for records management systems, and which represents national archives in 21 EU member states and many other countries. University of Portsmouth in the UK, the University of Cologne, Germany, and Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, Portugal and three IT firms, from Denmark, Sweden and Portugal, will help design, build and test the archive solution.
Project lead is the University of Portsmouth. "The goal of the E-ARK Project is to pilot archival services to keep records authentic and usable based on current best-practices. These will address the three main endeavours of an archive – acquiring, preserving and enabling re-use of information", the university said in a statement on 4 February.
"The key objective is to provide one common, robust approach that is replicable and scalable to meet the needs of many kinds of organisations, public and private, large and small, and able to support complex data types such as web pages and geo-data."
"The practices developed within the project will reduce the risk of information loss due to unsuitable approaches to keeping and archiving of records. Being generic and scalable, the project results could be applied to build an e-archival infrastructure across the EU and in environments where different legal systems and records management traditions apply."
Decades of data
The system is meant to be useful for all public administrations that submit records to national archives, explains Morten Kjærsgaard, CEO of Magenta-Aps, a Danish IT specialist and member of the consortium. "Not just for submitting records, but also for making records available when necessary, even if this is many decades later."
"We hope to set a standard for a solution that can be implemented by all national archives, that is secure, consistent and can be maintained and extended by all, making it sustainable in the long-run."
Choose a module
The E-Ark solution is not intended to replace all existing solutions but by making it publicly available, it should allow others to build combinations, says Kjærsgaard. "It will be modular, not an all-or-nothing solution. How to make other systems interact will be well-documented, so others can decide on what module to include, and what to leave out."
He adds that the E-Ark system could become an alternative solution for those public administrations that are now forced to use legacy archive solutions even when these are no longer commercially maintained. "That could save public administrations millions."