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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 2011-2012, this research area is addressed under Challenge 4, Objective 4.3: 'Digital Preservation'. The target outcomes are:

  • 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

In the 2009-2010 Work Programme, the target outcomes for digital preservation were:

  • Scalable systems and services for preserving digital content, handling end-to-end workflows for different types of digital resources, including demonstration in large scale testbeds;
  • Advanced preservation scenarios: methods, models and tools for managing digital memory, focusing on challenging preservation problems which cannot be adequately handled by current models;

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:

    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.
    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.
    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 will create portable emulators enabling access to and use of digital objects stored on outdated computer media. The emulators will ensure accurate rendering of both static and dynamic digital objects.
    PrestoPRIME is addressing long-term preservation of and access to digital audio-visual content by integrating media archives with European on-line digital libraries. Research will result in a range of tools and services, delivered through the networked 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 is developing a next generation 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 'Cultural Heritage and Technology Enhanced Learning'.