Published on November 7, 2008
Long Term Access to Digital Records – The Challenge Facing Managers of Radioactive Waste Ian Upshall Information & Data Recording Manager
The Need for Waste Records Strategic Needs • societal expectations • regulatory expectations • international reporting obligations • government requirements • national decision making Operational Needs • management of a hazardous material • safety and quality assurance • informing stakeholders • operational decision making
How Long is ‘Long Term’? Factors affecting record retention time: • radiological impact of the waste • repository oversight period • regulatory requirements • societal expectations Potential record retention times: • LLW: 50+ years after repository closure? • ILW/HLW: 100-1000+ years after repository closure?
Recorded Information Documents contain a combination of: • metadata • contextual information • tabulated data • descriptive text • references to other records • photographic images and diagrams • mathematic and scientific formulae Other records, including: • databases, spreadsheets, macros, software code, programmes (e.g. MS Project files), CAD engineering drawings
Records Currently in Use • Hard copy records • paper (all qualities and types), microform • Digital records • removable (magnetic and optical), online and offline (a typical waste package record will comprise a combination of these) • Other record media • material samples (rock, metals, concretes, polymers)
Status of Current Records • waste records are generally co-located with the waste on the nuclear site • few records are stored in recognised, managed ‘archive’ facilities • some additional (contextual) records are held by non-waste management stakeholders • some records are already up to 50 years old and may already be inaccessible using ‘conventional’ tools • records directly associated with a specific item or activity may employ different media and file formats
Guidance for Records Managers • IAEA Guidance Reports: • data requirements, media, management systems • Regulator Guidance: • based upon IAEA guidance, UK specific • Consultancies and SMEs • Suppliers • archives, materials & equipment • Nuclear Decommissioning Authority • policy, best practise, guidance
Generic Challenges Generic • timescales • profligacy of records – particularly digital • maintenance of provenance and authenticity • transfer of responsibilities over time • changing status – operational/historic/public • ‘physical’ access – security considerations • ‘informatic’ access: • readability, intelligibility, usability • changes in language and terminology
Digital Record Challenges Specific • transferable and sustainable file formats • managing explicit digital links • accurate transfer of complex objects: • CAD drawings, photographs, video • quantity of recorded information • impact on search and find • post-creation digitization • potential loss of provenance and links • digital record media management • quality, validation, change control
CAD Example Historic • 2D based repository design application • e.g. use of AutoCAD Contemporary • Building Information Management (BIM) • 3D object-based • multiple interconnected supporting databases • change control and ‘audit trail’ • maintaining the links ‘up and down’
What is Needed • internationally recognised ‘digitisation standards’ for strategies and file formats • recognition of long term implications • guidance on best practise • guidance on ‘what not to do’ • ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ digital record strategies • cooperation and support that transcends time and organisational structures (national and international)
Current Projects • development of regulator guidance on records management • development of a National Nuclear Archive (NNA) • consideration of the merits and potential difficulties associated with the implementation of a National Nuclear Network (a UK WAN)
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