Monday, September 26, 2016

Assessing and Quantifying Risk to Digital Media Materials

Assessing and Quantifying Risk to Digital Media Materials. Lance Thomas Stuchell. Bits and Pieces. August 31, 2016.
     A post written by Sarah Breen, Alix Norton, and Alexa Hagen. Archives are increasingly facing challenges in preserving digital media materials; creating digital processing workflows and workstations is one often discussed challenge. This article discusses a framework for assessing risk of loss to digital archival materials and shows that the methodology can highlight materials most susceptible to loss. This will help administrators demonstrate the need for immediate intervention and processing.

The methodology used a formula for calculating risk to physical collections:
"The formula yields a calculation of the magnitude of a given risk (MR) by multiplying the factors of the fraction of the collection that is susceptible (FS), loss of value (LV), probability of risk (P), and extent of the risk (E). By giving each of these factors a value between 0 and 1, we calculated MR values for the overall magnitude of a variety of risks, also between 0 and 1. While this formula is often used to assess risks over a 100 year period, due to the nature of the short lifespan and rapid obsolescence of digital media, we have used this formula to assess risks over a 10 year period".
External risks would affect the collection as a whole, and would include fire, theft, damage, and lack of funding to continue preservation projects. Internal risks are more specific to the physical digital media format, such as obsolescence of format and media degradation. Management, funding, administrative decisions and the storage environment can also be areas of high risk.

The highest risks assessed include:
  1. degradation and obsolescence, 
  2. lack of funding, and 
  3. potential loss of management support. 
The article recommends actions be taken to mitigate these risks early by:
  • migrating digital content to a stable content management system, 
  • lowering relative humidity of the storage environment, 
  • securing the lowest cost digital storage option that remains aligned with the library’s policy, and 
  • advocate to library and university administration showing the need for preservation
These recommendations should significantly reduce the highest risks and help ensure the preservation of the digital information.

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