E-ARK4ALL is a consortium of five partners working with the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility to develop the eArchiving Building Block. The building block is based on the outcomes of the E-ARK project (2014 - 2017). The project, which involved a number of European national archives, e-government agencies, digital preservation software developers and research institutions, aimed to synthesise best-practices from across Europe and develop a core set of interoperability specifications for archival operations.
Any information system we use right now becomes obsolete sooner or later, bringing along issues of security, efficiency and ease of use. A growing number of institutions is already tackling the issue of digital legacy – how to make sure that crucial digital information gathered into ancient systems remains available through modern technologies, hardware and software components. The most usual solution is data migration - old data is exported from the initial system, reformatted if needed, and imported into the new platform. While manageable on a smaller scale, the growing number of information systems and the amount of data makes migration increasingly complex and costly. In the worst case, data migration can also lead to the loss of portions of the data or its context, seriously affecting the delivery of services for a business, loss of accountability or incorrect decisions.
The aim of eArchiving is to provide the core specifications, software, training and knowledge to help data creators, software developers and digital archives tackle the challenge of short, medium and long-term data management and reuse in a sustainable, authentic, cost-efficient, manageable and interoperable way.
eArchiving aims to lower the cost of long-term availability by offering:
- Open and platform independent specifications for creating time resistant packages of crucial data and metadata;
- Open-source software components to demonstrate how data can be exported, preserved and reused according to the specifications;
- Standardised guidance and training on issues around long-term data management and digital archiving;
- A central community for digital archiving discussions.
By using the components of eArchiving, any organisation is able to set up its own institutional long-term archiving ecosystem or develop standardised workflows for delivering valuable content from line-of-business systems to external archival repositories. The reuse of the internationally standardised methods of eArchiving will guarantee that the information will still be available and reusable as long as necessary.
The core of eArchiving is formed by Information Package specifications which describe a common format for storing bulk data and metadata in a platform-independent, authentic and long-term understandable way. The specifications are ideal for migrating long-term valuable data between generations of information systems, transferring data to dedicated long-term repositories (i.e. digital archives), or preserving and reusing data over extended (and shorter) periods of time and generations of software systems. Next to the specifications eArchiving offers a set of sample software to demonstrate the format in different scenarios and business environments, and consultancy in regard to long-term digital preservation risks and their mitigation.