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Public Records in the Digital Age. Salvador Barragan Curator of Government Records Nebraska State Historical Society. A ‘record’ is the complete set of documentation required to provide evidence of a business transaction . What is a record?.

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public records in the digital age

Public Records in the Digital Age

Salvador Barragan

Curator of Government Records

Nebraska State Historical Society

what is a record
A ‘record’ is the complete set of documentation required to provide evidence of a business transaction.What is a record?
shifting media
Before Paper we stored valuable historical data on stone and papyrus.

In our current period records of historical permanency were stored on paper and kept in filing cabinets

When the cabinet was full, records were sent to file room.

Now records are stored electronically on computers

When the computer is ‘full’ – add more hard drives or servers.

Basic skills to manage and maintain records has been lost, replaced by infinite storage

Shifting Media
electronic records management goals
Electronic Records Management Goals
  • Bring the record to the forefront of system design activities.
  • Identify electronic records functionality as part of system design.
  • Create electronic records that support legal, fiscal and evidentiary needs.
  • Create long term archival storage for both retention schedule and historical purposes.
goals con t
Goals con’t

5.Create electronic records that are accessible and usable over time (non-proprietary formats).

6.Integrate diverse document forms and formats into records.

7.Identify need for internal and external primary and secondary access to records.


1.Records Capture – Records are created or captured and identified to support the business process and meet all records management requirements related to the process.


2.Records Maintenance and Accessibility – Electronic records are maintained so that they are accessible and retain their integrity for as long as they are needed.


3.System Reliability – A system is administrated in accordance with best practices in the information resource management field to ensure the reliability of the records it produces.

higher standards
As electronic records become more integrated into society, producers of those records will be held to higher standards of conduct


Sarbanes Oxley

Federal and State Mandates

Case Law

Higher Standards
ne public records laws
NE Public Records Laws

002.01 Record. The Records Management Act (Revised Statutes of Nebraska, Chapter

84, Article 12) defines a record as: "any book, document, paper, photograph, microfilm,

sound recording, magnetic storage medium, optical storage medium, or other material

regardless of physical form or characteristics created or received pursuant to law, charter,

or ordinance or in connection with any other activity relating to or having an effect upon

the transaction of public business." A record is information that is inscribed on a tangible

medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in

perceivable form.

records retention
The foundation of democracy in America is government accountability to the people and permanency of our culture and heritage. Records Retention
So the question becomes… who takes care of the records, and do they have the knowledge understanding of the new technology?
caretakers of information
Historically records sent to file room, staff maintained access to records and managed lifecycle based on need and legal requirements

Now records are managed by users and IT staff, based on capacity and cost.

Caretakers of Information
taking into account the goals of records management and the function of records what are we to do
Taking into account the goals of records management and the function of Records, what are we to do?
or what is the solution
Or what is the solution?
  • Best Practice Models
  • Standards
  • Systems
  • Digital Archive?
best practice models
Best Practice Models
  • OAIS Model
  • Washington State Archives

When ever possible follow the prevailing best practices and standards.

standards for e records
Standards for E-Records….
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Formats
  • Management
  • Authenticity
File Room of the 21st century

Capacity and Speed double every 18 months

Many choices



Spinning Disc

First Immutable Law of Digital Archiving

“What hardware you use today will be obsolete within four years”

digital archives hardware
Network – Cisco Backbone end to end


EMC – SAN storage

5 TB now, 20TB by end of Year

HP – Servers and desktops

ADIC – Tape Library for offsite, disaster recovery (nightly or weekly back up, remember Katrina and 9-11)

Microsoft – Software and Development

Digital Archives Hardware
archival software and file format standards



PDF/A (Used by the Federal Courts)

XML and interoperability)

DoD 5015.2-STD compliant system

Nebraska State Records Guidelines

Whenever possible seek the

Open, documented solution!

Remember WordStar and DBase II ???

Archival Software and File Format Standards
metadata interoperability
Cross cultural and contextual boundaries


Interoperability & Metadata schema

Metadata & Interoperability
content management
Essential to maintain control of the information explosion

Allows hard coded rules and information exchange

BUT still requires a strong knowledge, understanding and implementation of basic records management

Second Immutable Law of Digital Archiving:

“Data is Data, a Record is a Record, It is the content that drives retention, not the media”

Content Management
DoD 5015.2-STD compliant system

Wrap original file in native format

Wrap XML copy

Apply metadata & XML for indexing, searching & retrieval

Provide chain of custody & authenticity

‘Content Management’

content management1
Microsoft Solution

SQL Server back end

BizTalk translation utility

SSH Tectia for secure transport

Washington State Archives Case Study

‘Content Management’
Maintain Chain of Custody

In the care of trusted 3rd party

Received from trusted, known source

data security
Encrypted SSH FTP transmission

Issue Digital Certificate

Verify IP and computer information

MD5 Hash on all original files

Copy of FTP on tape prior to ingestion

DB backups on tape

Record Level Security for confidential Info

Data Security
record level security
Restrict records at item, field or series level

Restrict to individual, dept, office or global

Uses authenticated login to reveal fields

Anonymous users see ‘Restricted’

Record Level Security
deep storage xml schema
Deep Storage XML Schema
  • Record Common
      • Who
      • What
      • When
      • Where
      • Original File
      • ‘web’ file
      • Security
      • Fixity
  • Vital Records
  • Type
  • Birth
  • Date of
  • Father, Mother
  • Hospital
ingestion process
MUST be flexible

Microsoft BizTalk 2004

Transforms, adds metadata based on business rules

Creates ‘deep storage’ copy wrapping original file in XML, with Hash

Creates ‘web’ version of original file

Ingestion Process
archive database
Designed around latest industry standards

Open source, non-proprietary file storage

Applies metadata ‘tags’ to save information about record

creator, date, agency, subject, etc.

Provides chain of custody & authenticity of record

Allow search and retrieval of archival records through a web page

Archive Database
Distributed, non-standardized environment

Limited technology expertise in some agencies

Unpredictable data growth rate

Few business models

Emerging technologies

Limited internal expertise

management issues
Authenticity of record


File naming conventions

Corporate Culture

Start small with e-mail, web page

Use existing retention schedules


Shift AWAY from desktops…

…And move to central servers

Management Software is a must!

Privacy of sensitive data

Management Issues
third immutable law
“Anything that you do today, will need major overhaul in two years or sooner”

Technology and industry changing at unprecedented rates… But, more records are ‘lost’ every day!

Key is to be flexible and address with systematic forethought

Third Immutable Law
restricted record
Restricted Record


why a digital archives
Comply with statutory & regulatory mandates.

The Law requires preservation of certain public records – it doesn’t specify whether those records are paper or electronic. All records must be given the same care.

Avoid loss of legal & historical records

As technology changes, the older media (5 ¼” floppy disks, for instance) become harder to read.

Centralize Records

Centralization means uniformity in maintenance

‘Trained professionals’ serve as caretakers

Preserve rare and ‘at-risk’ paper records

Improved access for citizens

By centralizing historical electronic records in one location, ‘one-stop shopping’ will provide the information quicker and easier

Why a Digital Archives?
the digital archives will
The Digital Archives will:
  • Preserve electronic records with long-term legal, historical and/or fiscal significance
  • Assure platform-neutral retrieval 50, 100, or more years from now
  • Provide security back-up of certain permanent electronic legal records (courts, vital records, land records, etc.)
Adam Jansen, Digital Archivist for the Washington State Archives.

Dr. Ed Papenfuse, State Archivist for the Maryland State Archives.

Andrea Falling, State Archivist for the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Cathy Danahy, Assistant Director of the Nebraska Records Management Division.