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A UK organisation is to lead an EU project on the long term preservation of digital data on culture and science

The Council for the Central Laboratory for the Research Council (CCLRC) will lead the Caspar project (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval), it has been announced.

Funded by the EU's Information Society Technologies programme, it is aimed at ensuring that the digital assets of cultural and scientific institutions remain accessible as hardware and software changes.

A consortium of organisations from around the EU will be involved in the project. They include the European Space Agency and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

CCLRC will lead the effort to develop a framework to support the end-to-end preservation lifecycle for information. This will be tested against a wide range of user communities and types of digital information. The organisation said it will have to develop flexible techniques because of the variety of material.

Project co-ordinator Dr David Giaretta said: "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 reflects a growing concern over the need for the preservation of digital information in the face of rapid changes in technology. The government's Chief Technical Officers Council is currently working with the National Archives on an electronic document and records management system that will preserve the long term value of public sector information.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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