Blockchain being tested on UK National Archives

Every day there is another story about an organisation reaping the rewards of blockchain technology, however there aren’t many with the reputation of the UK government.

Thus, the news that the government are investigating the use of blockchain for record sharing within The National Archives could be a massive boost for advocates of the technology.

The Archives is renowned for being a standard setter in its area, so it is hoped that this research will give a wider understanding of blockchain technology to Archives and Memory Institutions (AMIs) throughout the world.

The research, which is entitled Archangel, is a collaborative project and involves the likes of the University of Surrey and the Open Data Institute.

It is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the key idea being to check how useful blockchain can be for managing extensive archives.

Alex Green, who is the Archives’ digital preservation services manager, wrote a blog about the research this week.

In it, he wrote the following: “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”

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

Distributed ledger technology will “collect robust digital signatures derived from digitized physical, and born-digital content.”

The research is expected to take around a year and a half.

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Irvine Dane

Acting editor

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