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How will we access today’s digital information in the future?

IBM Haifa Labs News Center


September 05, 2006


IBM Haifa researchers join the European CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access, and Retrieval) project to create technologies that will preserve cultural and scientific digital information for hundreds of years


Haifa, Israel - 26 August 2006: Have you ever tried to open a document you created 10 years ago? What are the chances you’ll be able to access the information stored inside a file years after it has been created? The huge amounts of valuable digital information being created and stored all over the world are at risk of becoming inaccessible in just a few years. Modern society is looking for answers on how this information can be understood and used in the future when software, systems, and everyday knowledge will have changed.

IBM researchers in Haifa are participating in CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval), a European project launched as part of the EU’s Sixth Framework programme to preserve cultural and scientific resources. The project covers information related to cultural data, scientific data, and contemporary arts.

The guiding principle of the CASPAR project is to apply the OAIS (Open Archival Information Systems) Reference Model, a widely accepted international standard for preserving digitally encoded information. CASPAR will develop components and a framework for standardized image representation and preservation, virtual storage using advanced storage technologies, digital rights management, and knowledge representation.

The contribution from IBM Haifa researchers will center around a new storage concept called Preservation DataStore. This technology, based on Object Storage Devices, uses open standards and OAIS in particular to provide a common storage interface for preservation environments. This solution helps encapsulate the data with large amounts of metadata, including context information, provenance information, formats, and representation information to guarantee the long-term sustainability of all the supplementary information needed to interpret the data hundreds of years after it is stored.

"The IBM Haifa Lab has extensive experience with storage systems, and Object Storage in particular," notes Dalit Naor, researcher for Network Storage Technologies. "The Object Storage team in Haifa has been involved with this technology for over four years and we are active participants in the OSD standard. This experience will be instrumental in building the foundations for the new storage paradigm." The Haifa team has already developed an implementation of object storage, including an open-source driver, and participated in a demonstration of this technology with other vendors.

"Preservation of digital information is emerging as a key requirement for future storage systems. The development of such systems will require innovative collaboration among producers of data, storage technology providers, and research institutes," explains Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal, Manager of the IBM Haifa Reliable Systems Department, responsible for activities in the areas of storage research and system quality and reliability. "IBM Research is well positioned to provide the systems and storage technology and know-how that can help advance the CASPAR project in the areas of storage technology and standards, as well as information management and preservation."

CASPAR is especially challenging in light of the tremendous range of user communities and types of digital information to be tested. These communities include science, performing arts, and cultural heritage, each of which has a huge variety of data to be processed as well as documents of various types to be read. This great variety means CASPAR will have to develop novel flexible techniques that have wide applicability.

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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