State Records to implement NSW’s first digital State archives solution February 14, 2011

In 2011 State Records will commence the implementation of a digital archives solution capable of accepting, preserving and making available born digital records of the NSW government as State archives.

The digital records challenge

NSW Government does most of its business today in the online environment. Digital recordkeeping guidance, advice and tools are encouraging public offices to move to digital records capture and management, in support of the NSW Government’s electronic service delivery and other business improvement initiatives.

Digital records now hold both individual public offices’ corporate memory and the archival resources of the government and people of NSW.

Many digital record formats used by government agencies are proprietary. These formats are created by software companies for use with their own particular programs only, and the rules of the format are closely guarded corporate secrets. Many digital records can only be opened, and their contents properly displayed, by the software application in which they were created. As a result, if the original creating application and/or operating system are no longer available, or its price is too prohibitive for users to acquire the appropriate license, the digital record cannot be accessed in the long-term.

Even widely accepted formats cannot be read after a few generations of technological change. Archives must be kept useable for hundreds of years, while some long-term temporary records must be retained for decades, in either case spanning multiple generations of technological change.

The Future Proof strategy

State Records’ Future Proof strategy is dedicated to the protection and management of digital records of the New South Wales Government. The strategy has two key goals:

  • improving digital recordkeeping across the NSW Government, and
  • implementing a digital State archive for the NSW Government.

Digital recordkeeping standards have been developed for agencies in support of the first of these two aims. These standards establish clear benchmarks for the creation and management of robust, trustworthy and accessible digital records.

Digital State archives project

State Records is pleased to announce that, in support of the second of the two key Future Proof goals, we have received funding for a three year project to deliver a digital archives facility, commencing in 2011 – our 50th anniversary year!

The digital archives infrastructure implemented will complement and integrate with State Records’ existing systems and processes for the management and use of paper based archival records in line with the State Records Act 1998. It will conform to international standards and best practice for trusted digital repositories and will adopt common tools and approaches used by other Australasian government archives authorities.

For the Government and people of New South Wales, the digital State archives will mean:

  • improved government efficiency and quality of services as a result of keeping digital records in more accessible formats and ensuring they remain authentic and reliable
  • the preservation of authentic and accessible digital records that document citizens’ rights and entitlements, environment and history, and, ultimately
  • seamless online access to digital archives in conjunction with digitised paper archives, offering the people of New South Wales greatly enhanced access to State archives documenting our history.
Cassie Findlay
Senior Project Officer, Government Recordkeeping
ph: (02) 8247 8629
m: 0412 355 899
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