C-DAC charts a course for long-term preservation of important data

The Indian Express , May 25, 2010

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) would formulate a national study report on long-term preservation and archiving of data of national importance.

The data it plans to conserve pertains to government records, cultural heritage, scientific data, films and video, insurance and banking etc as part of National Digital Preservation Programme (NDPP) of the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India.

Dr Dinesh Katre, Programme Coordinator, Human-Centered Design and Computing (HCDC) Group with C-DAC has been appointed as Principal Investigator of NDPP by department of information technology.

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C-DAC recently hosted the first national meeting on India’s Digital Preservation Programme organized as part of NDPP. The study report will serve as the guideline to the central government to set the policies, standards and technology development for digital data archival and preservation across multiple verticals.

Around 30 experts from diverse domains related to data archival and digital preservation participated in the NDPP meeting, chaired by Dr. A. K. Chakravarti, former additional secretary, DeitY. Representatives from Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDIA), Doordarshan, All India Radio, National Archives of India, National Film Archives of India, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, National Informatics Centre, Life Insurance Corporation, IBM, Wipro, and so on attended the meet held on May 20-21.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Katre said, "It is necessary to elevate the level of all conventional archives in India to trusted digital repositories. The threat here is lack of standard guidelines that define the modality of long-term digital data archival. Without this, there is no absolute guarantee that our valuable data will not become a victim of data corruption or technology obsolescence."

Dr. A. K. Chakravarti, who chaired the meet, said that the Government of India has resolved to overcome the issues through the NDPP. He said that the danger of current digital preservation techniques operating without any standard acceptable guidelines is far real than we can imagine. "The vast amount of digitised data being generated across multiple offices in multiple formats every day, makes our task very imperative to avoid huge financial overruns in the long run, and the worst scenario of all, the inability to access and use the data in a meaningful way. It is with this objective in mind that the National Digital Preservation Programme has been formulated," he said.

Around 20 status reports have been collated from various organizations in this meeting of the NDPP expert panel. The proposed National level Study Report is scheduled to be completed in July 2010.