University of Surrey deploys blockchain and AI-powered ARCHANGEL for securing national archives

ARCHANGEL is a highly secure, decentralised computer vision and blockchain based systemImage: ARCHANGEL is a highly secure, decentralised computer vision and blockchain based system. Photo: courtesy of University of Surrey.

The University of Surrey said that it has deployed a decentralised computer vision and blockchain-based system, called ARCHANGEL, to secure the digital government records of national archives in the UK, Australia, the US and other countries.

The system, based on blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), has been developed by the university through its Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) department alongside the Open Data Institute (ODI) and the National Archives in the UK for the protection of the long-term future of digital video archives.

According to the university, the blockchain of ARCHANGEL functions as a database maintained by multiple archives, enabling everyone to check and add records, but prevents the added data from being changed. With no modification of data possible, the integrity of the historical record is maintained, said the University of Surrey.

Furthermore, ARCHANGEL has been developed particularly to identify any events of accidental modifications or tampering with the digital public record. A proof-of-authority blockchain system provides the backing for the archives security system, said the university.

The system has been piloted in national government archives of the UK, Estonia, Australia and Norway, and the National Archives and Records Administration in the US.

University of Surrey ARCHANGEL project lead professor John Collomosse said: “Archives across the world are amassing vast volumes of digital content, and it is important that they can prove their provenance and integrity to the public in a secure and transparent way.

“By combining blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies, we have shown that it is possible to safeguard the integrity of archival data in the digital age. It essentially provides a digital fingerprint for archives, making it possible to verify their authenticity.”

ARCHANGEL, which is part of the Surrey blockchain testbed, was recognised recently as a research highlight in 10 years of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Digital Economy programme.

National Archives digital director John Sheridan said: “Exploring blockchain technology together with some of the world’s leading archives, the ARCHANGEL project has shown, for real, how archives might combine forces to protect and assure vital digital evidence for the future.

“ARCHANGEL has been an outstanding partnership that has delivered ground breaking research into the practicalities of using blockchain to assure trust in large scale digital archives.”

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