A UK University Is 'Fingerprinting' National Archives With Blockchain

A British university and the Open Data Institute have built a blockchain system to secure records of national video archives against tampering.

AccessTimeIconMay 29, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:15 a.m. UTC

The U.K.'s University of Surrey has announced that it's securing digital government records of national video archives around the world against tampering using blockchain tech and artificial intelligence (AI).

In a press release provided to CoinDesk, the university said its Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) has teamed up with the Open Data Institute and the National Archives in the U.K. to develop what it calls a "highly secure, decentralised computer vision and blockchain based system" called ARCHANGEL, which is designed to preserve the integrity of digital archives for the long term.

Computer vision is a field in which computers are programmed to analyze and understand digital images or videos.

The system “essentially provides a digital fingerprint for archives, making it possible to verify their authenticity," according to project lead at the University of Surrey, Professor John Collomosse.

ARCHANGEL uses blockchain tech as a database maintained by a number of archives. The system is designed to automatically flag modifications to the digital public record, whether accidental or malicious, and it is backed up by the "proof-of-authority" blockchain system.

"Everyone can check and add records, but no one can change them. As no data can be modified, the integrity of the historical record remains intact," the university explained.

The new system has already been trialed by the national government archives of the U.K., Estonia, Norway and Australia, as well as the National Archives and Records Administration in the U.S., according to the release. The institution will present a paper describing the work at the CVPR conference in Los Angeles next month.

Jeni Tennison, CEO of the Open Data Institute, said:

“It is becoming easier and easier to manipulate digital records, which makes it crucial for the institutions who take care of those records to be able to demonstrate their trustworthiness.”

Video wall image via Shutterstock


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