Digital Preservation


From a problem first faced by archives and libraries, digital preservation has become an issue relevant to all domains of today's society: As individuals, we record all aspects of our lives and create and store our memories in digital form, through photos, e-mails, social websites, etc. Accomplishments in modern research, education, business, industry, and government largely depend on persistent access to digital materials, and their use, re-use, and re-purposing. A vast amount of the digital content created today represents the knowledge base, the cultural heritage and the societal memory of the future.

Digital preservation research aims at concepts, techniques and tools for ensuring that digital resources remain accessible, useable and meaningful over time, while guaranteeing the integrity and authenticity of the information as originally recorded.


Objectives under the 7 th Framework Programme (2006-2013)

In the current ICT Work Programme, which defines the priorities for 2013, this research area is under Challenge 11, Objective 2: 'More efficient and affordable solutions for digital preservation'. The aim is to address the needs of public holders of digital collections through a special funding scheme, where research and development work is acquired through pre-commercial public procurement.

In the previous ICT Work Programme (2011-2012), the target outcomes for digital preservation research were:

  • More reliable and secure preservation technologies and methods
  • Technologies and systems for intelligent management of preservation
  • Interdisciplinary research networks
  • Promotion schemes for the uptake of digital preservation research outcomes

The 2009-2010 Work Programme called for scalable systems and services for preserving digital content and advanced preservation scenarios.

The first work programme under FP7 (2007-08) included the objective to promote new approaches to digital preservation, where advanced ICTs would have capacities such as: acting on high volumes of dynamic and volatile digital content (notably web content); safeguarding integrity, authenticity and accessibility over time; keeping track of contexts (evolving meaning and usage); enabling automatic and self-organising preservation.

FP7 projects addressing digital preservation

  • 4C examines how existing digital preservation cost modelling tools and methods might be made more fit-for-purpose, relevant and useable. It will identify existing and emerging research, analyse user requirements and assess gaps in the current provision of tools, frameworks and models. Outputs will include the establishment of an international Curation Costs Exchange framework.
  • APARSEN - 'Alliance Permanent Access to the Records of Science in Europe' - is a Network of Excellence gathering digital preservation practitioners and researchers.
  • ARCOMEM starts from the vision to leverage the Wisdom of the Crowds for content appraisal, selection and preservation, in order to create and preserve archives that reflect collective memory and social content perception, and are, thus, closer to current and future users.
  • BlogForever will create digital preservation, management and dissemination facilities for weblogs.
  • DAVID researches how to structure, store, monitor, repair and improve digital audio-visual content in a way that balances long-term costs, risks of loss, and content quality.
  • DIACHRON takes on the challenges of archiving and data quality in the context of Linked Open Data and modern database systems. The project intends to automate the collection of metadata, provenance and other contextual information so that data are and remain accessible and usable.
  • DuraArk will develop a long-term preservation system for architectural content that will overcome shortcomings of current archiving systems in this domain that are still based on simple metadata schemes inherited from the analogue world.
  • ENSURE will improve long term usability for data held by organisations with commercial interests. Use cases for the research are in the domains aerospace, health care, finance and clinical trials.
  • ForgetIT combines three new concepts to ease digital preservation in the personal and organisational context: Managed Forgetting models inspired by the important role of forgetting in human memory; Synergetic Preservation, making intelligent preservation processes an integral part of the content lifecycle in information management; and Contextualized Remembering, with the aim of keeping preserved content meaningful and useful.
  • LiWA has developed and demonstrated web archiving tools able to capture content from a wide variety of sources, to improve archive fidelity and authenticity and to ensure long term interpretability of web content.
  • KEEP has created emulation services to enable accurate rendering of both static and dynamic digital objects: text, sound, and image files; multimedia documents, websites, databases, videogames etc. Amongst others, this required research into the description of technical environments, resulting in a metadata registry called TOTEM.
  • PERICLES  targets the long-term sustainability of dynamic, heterogeneous digital resources. It addresses the evolution of these resources and their dependencies, not only through technology obsolescence, but also through “semantic drift” (e.g. due to evolving terminology), or changes in the disciplinary and societal contexts. Research outputs will be validated against real-life user scenarios in digital media and contemporary art, and in space science.
  • PrestoPRIME has addressed long-term preservation of and access to digital audio-visual content. Project results are a range of tools and services delivered through the virtual competence centre PrestoCentre.
  • PROTAGE has built and validated software agents for long-term digital preservation and access that can be integrated in existing and new preservation systems.
  • SCAPE will enhance the state of the art of digital preservation in three ways: by developing an infrastructure and tools for scalable preservation actions; by providing a framework for automated, quality-assured preservation workflows and by integrating these components with a policy-based preservation planning and watch system.
  • SHAMAN has developed a digital preservation framework including tools for analysing, ingesting, managing, accessing and reusing information objects and data across libraries and archives.
  • TIMBUS will ensure continued access to services and software necessary to produce the context within which information can be accessed, properly rendered, validated and transformed into knowledge.
  • Wf4Ever aims at providing the methods and tools required to ensure the long-term preservation of scientific workflows.

Objectives under the 6 th Framework Programme (2002-2006)

Digital preservation first emerged as a theme of EU-funded research in the last IST Work Programme under FP6 (WP 2005-2006). It was addressed through the strategic objective 'Access to and preservation of cultural and scientific resources'.

  • FP6 projects addressing digital preservation:
    Two large-scale projects were testing OAIS-based systems and tools to support longer-term availability and accessibility of multi-sourced and multi-formatted resources ( CASPAR ) and to integrate preservation functions and services into organisational workflows and processes ( PLANETS ).
    The Coordination Action DPE - DigitalPreservationEurope worked towards stronger synergies of digital preservation efforts and expertise, by focusing on awareness rising, exchange and skills development through training activities. One of the sustainable results of DPE is the YouTube channel " Wepreserve ".

This page is maintained by the European Commission, unit 'Creativity'.