The government is to investigate ways to preserve its data so it can be used in future, even when storage formats become obsolete.
A project to look at options for setting up a shared service across government to protect the information will be led by the National Archives. The aim is that the service will migrate and preserve digital data for all government departments.
Both governments and private sector firms are becoming increasingly concerned that crucial data may be inaccessible when it is needed as file formats and hardware fall out of use. Last year, the EU announced funding for a project involving national libraries, research institutes, IBM and Microsoft, to prevent application file formats becoming extinct.
Electronic documents such as web pages are also worryingly ephemeral and can disappear within days of their creation without active preservation.
Natalie Ceeney, chief executive of the National Archives said: "Making sure that information remains accessible despite the rapid pace of changes in technology is a significant issue for all government departments.
"There is a real danger of losing critical knowledge vital for today’s government business. Effective digital preservation is essential to ensure government’s accountability, business continuity and efficiency."
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