Fifth Generation Archive for 21st Century Australia

Here at the National Archives of Australia, we’re focused on the need for a major capability upgrade that will equip us to be an Archives of the 21st Century.  We’re starting of course with the public -thinking about their needs and expectations and how Australians in the future could best benefit from complete and easy access to their national archival collection.

We’re envisaging a “Fifth Generation Archive” – a scalable, modular and secure architecture that includes secure storage, elastic computing power, secure connectivity and emerging AI technology  for secure information exchange with government agencies and an advanced digital user engagement (access) layer to deliver digital services for government agencies, industry, researchers and the Australian public.

This 5G Archive will provide seamless selection, transfer, preservation, management and access to information through the implementation of an Archives-as-a-service platform. It will include:

  • A digital service to transfer records from government agencies to the National Archives
  • automated identification of significant, long-term government information and data
  • automated data extraction from agencies to the Archives, or ability for agencies to push datasets or unstructured information to an Archives-approved store
  • preservation and management of information and data ensuring long-term integrity, confidentiality and authenticity in the Archive
  • risk-based automated declassification of information that has lost its sensitivity over time
  • a centralised point to search, discover and access government information

This is perhaps the most ambitious program we’ve ever taken on at the National Archives of Australia; and by no means do we have all the answers yet.  Nonetheless, it’s a fundamental part of our vision to be ‘a world leading archive in this digital age’.

By David Fricker, Director-General, National Archives of Australia, President, ICA