Mapping your digital archive risks

When managing your digital archive, there are specific risks that can endanger your information. Mapping these risks can help you to act in time and avoid unwelcome surprises.
In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What risks exist for digital archives?
  • How do you map these risks?
  • Who should carry out this risk analysis?
Managing information comes with risks. And, when it comes to digital information management, there are specific risks that are best identified and understood in order to minimise them. By being aware of these risks, you can take action in good time to prevent any surprises caused by a lost, unreadable or unusable digital archive.
Jørgen Stamp, CC BY 2.5 DK, via Wikimedia Commons

Managing information comes with risks. And, when it comes to digital information management, there are specific risks that are best identified and understood in order to minimise them. By being aware of these risks, you can take action in good time to prevent any surprises caused by a lost, unreadable or unusable digital archive.

Having a clear understanding of the risks of digital information management is important from the moment a document is created. At that stage, you make decisions that can either increase or decrease certain risks, e.g. choosing the file format or the location to store the file.

Risks to your digital archive include:

  • lack of awareness, policies and resources for achieving sustainable preservation;
  • lack of organisation, knowledge and monitoring regarding digital preservation;
  • document management issues;
  • IT infrastructure challenges;
  • lack of a sustainability policy;
  • lack of user-friendliness.

How do you map these risks?

Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi), in collaboration with the Province of Antwerp, has developed a tool that can help you map these risks. While the template is primarily designed for architectural firms, the underlying principles can also inspire artists and arts organisations.

Who does this?

The agreements made within the organisation should clarify who is responsible for mapping the risks. (See the article Making agreements and determining responsibilities regarding archive and collection management.) Each employee has a responsibility to stick to the agreements regarding naming conventions and folder structure. The person in charge within an organisation can map the risks, but reducing these risks requires a collective effort and cooperation from everyone within the organisation.


Author: Bart Magnus (meemoo) and Wim Lowet (VAi)

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