The UK Government’s Official Archive Is Testing Blockchain

Christine Kim
Jun 6, 2018 at 21:30 UTC
news

The National Archives (TNA), the official record-keeper of the UK government, is investigating the use of blockchain for records sharing.

The research project, dubbed Archangel, is being led by the University of Surrey and involves partners such as the Open Data Institute. Among other goals, the initiative will explore the extent to which blockchain can address pressing questions related to archive management.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Alex Green, the Archives’ digital preservation services manager, wrote:

“How can we demonstrate that the record you see today is the same record that was entrusted to the archive 20 years previously?… How do we ensure that citizens continue to see archives as trusted custodians of the digital public record? To address these questions, Archangel is exploring how we can know that a digital record has been modified and whether the change was legitimate so that ultimately it can still be trusted as the authentic record.”

“Specifically, the project is investigating how blockchain might be used to achieve this,” Green added.

As one of the world’s largest and oldest archives, The Archives is a leader in setting standards and best practices in the field. As such, the project aims to “deliver vertical impact to specific sectors within the Archives and Memory Institutions (AMIs) landscape, driven through end-user partner The National Archives.”

ARCHANGEL has a proposed timeframe of 18 months. It is set to prototype a distributed ledger technology (DLT) service that will “collect robust digital signatures derived from digitized physical, and born-digital content,” according to Green.

The research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which invests more than £800 million a year in fields such as mathematics, materials science, and information technology.

The National Archives image via Shutterstock