Much public good could be derived from the analysis of government records, particularly records in digital form. Yet, accessing these data is likely to be subject to future difficulties. The problem of locked digital data is a complex challenge that requires collaboration across multiple fields and professional sectors to overcome issues including confidentiality, privacy, national security, copyright, technological constraints, and the existence of a multiplicity of different structures, systems and applications.

The input of computer scientists who specialise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essential to tackling this challenge. Indeed, AI can be used to identify sensitive materials in a mass of born-digital records to make non-sensitive materials accessible. AI can also serve to search vast amounts of data when keyword searches would not be effective. New technologies have the potential to unlock data and to support its management over time.

The overall aim of the LUSTRE project is to connect policy makers with Computer Scientists, Digital Humanists and professionals in the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). The project will be co-delivered with professionals from the Cabinet Office’s Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO).

In addition to the Cabinet Office, we will work closely with the following project partners: The National Archives (TNA); Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI); Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP); Archives and Records Association (ARA); Science Museum Group (SMG); and SVGC, an industry partner that has already established other relationships with government departments.

The LUSTRE project aims to deliver the following outputs:

  • Four lunchtime talks
  • A series of workshops, including two workshops in London at the Cabinet Office and one workshop in Belfast (hosted by Public Records Office of Northern Ireland).
  • An online survey and semi-structured interviews to identify key obstacles and ways forward to unlock born-digital records.
  • Open-Access report and journal special issue to help government professionals manage their born-digital archives, transfer them to archival repositories, and make them accessible to users.
  • A cross-sector network on born-digital archives, connecting government professionals with academics and GLAM professionals.