Home arrow News arrow 27/07/2007 EU project to address digital preservation across culture, arts and science
27/07/2007 EU project to address digital preservation across culture, arts and science PDF Print E-mail
The valuable digital assets of many cultural and scientific institutions across Europe representing the cumulated knowledge of generations are becoming increasingly vulnerable and at risk of being no longer accessible, given the fast evolution of computer hardware and software.

The European Union, under the Information Society Technologies R&D programme, is co-funding (providing 8.8 M Euro out of the total planned spend of 16 M Euro) a new project aiming at addressing this risk.

The large scale Integrated Project, CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval), will address the growing challenge of the deluge of intrinsically fragile digital information - upon which we are increasingly dependent - by building a pioneering framework to support the end-to-end preservation lifecycle for scientific, artistic and cultural digital information, based on existing and emerging standards (see http://www.casparpreserves.eu).

Project co-ordinator, Dr David Giaretta, explained, “CASPAR will address the issue of how digitally encoded information can still be understood and used in the future when the software, systems and everyday knowledge will have changed. Things we take for granted now would otherwise be completely unfamiliar, something to be guessed at, even if we preserve the bits and bytes. In addition to benefiting future generations, immediate benefits result from doing the preservation right by supporting interoperability and use of unfamiliar current data”.

The project team aims to establish an authoritative foundation methodology for digital preservation activities, supported by a general system framework guaranteeing the requirements of longer term preservation of unrelated digital resources.

Of particular importance is the huge breadth of user communities and types of digital information against which CASPAR will be tested: science, performing arts and cultural heritage, each of which has a huge variety of data (things meant to be processed) as well as documents of various types (things meant to be read). This great variety means that CASPAR will have to develop novel flexible techniques which have wide applicability. 

The preservation infrastructure, including issues such as authentication, accreditation and digital rights management, must itself be preservable if it is to be fit for purpose, and specific testbeds will be produced, aimed to be embedded in operational systems within the CASPAR consortium, and which should be easy to integrate into many other operational systems.

To achieve this, CASPAR brings together a consortium covering important digital holdings, with the appropriate extensive scientific (CCLRC – the lead partner and ESA), cultural (UNESCO) and creative expertise (INA, CNRS, University of Leeds, IRCAM and CIANT), together with commercial partners (ACS, ASemantics, MetaWare, Engineering, and IBM Haifa Research Lab), experts in knowledge engineering (CNR and FORTH) and other leaders in the field of information preservation (HATII, University of Glasgow and ISTBAL, University of Urbino).

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