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What is digital continuity?
Digital continuity is the ability to access and use digital records for as long as required, and through organisational, business and technological changes.
Ensuring long-term access to records is difficult due to:
deterioration of storage media, obsolescence of software, storage media, and hardware
complexities associated with authenticity and integrity of digital records.
The term ‘digital continuity’ generally means the same as ‘digital archiving’. Both digital continuity and digital archiving are about the long term preservation and management of digital information. We prefer to use digital continuity because it more clearly indicates the importance of keeping records accessible for the purpose of business.
Why is digital continuity important?
Agencies are moving from a paper based organisation to a more paperlite or even paperless organisation. However, business efficiencies will not be gained and the renewal transformation of government will slow unless coherent practices and systems are put in place for the long-term management of the rapidly growing volume of digital records.
Technological obsolescence and poor information management practices across the lifecycle of digital information place records at risk of losing their trustworthiness, integrity and authenticity, or simply becoming lost or inaccessible.
Such loss can carry significant impacts including legal liability, organisational inability to provide consistent client service, lack of accountability, loss of business intelligence and continuity, inefficiency, the loss of the future’s history, and erosion in the community’s trust in the government.
Active and ongoing intervention is needed to ensure the long-term authenticity, security and accessibility of digital records. This is particularly urgent with the proliferation of digital records in a multitude of aging IT systems, the need to address the problem is urgent.
What is QSA doing to implement digital continuity?
In 2012 Queensland State Archives released its Digital Continuity Strategy which sets out the basis for the work to be undertaken by QSA to develop a digital continuity approach for all Queensland government agencies.
We are now working on a staged program of work to implement the strategy. The first stage is to work with the market, use engagement and partnerships with industry to iteratively test, prove and roll out the services and solutions required by government.
Our vision for successfully implemented digital continuity is summarized in the diagram below:
You can find more information on digital recordkeeping, including the storage and preservation of digital records on the rest of the Recordkeeping SPOT. See also the Managing public records when decommissioning business systems toolkit.