As is often the case the press have not quite got this story right, but pretty close.
Although it may not match the perception of “the man on the street”, OS is a data business, and over the past 5 years since I have been working here, the volumes of data we deal with have increased massively.
Not only in terms of new sources of digital imagery but also from increasing numbers of geospatial feature databases used in product development.
Data volumes today are over 500 Tb – that’s around 25,000 iPods !!
As a “National Mapping Agency” and as part of government there are additional responsibility’s in terms of maintaining an archive of the data throughout is lifetime and hence the need to develop strategies to archive large amounts of data.
We have chosen to adopt UDO media, very high density optical media which can store 30GB per disk and which is far more resistant to environmental conditions than traditional magnetic media.
The bigger issue for us however is to make sure that the data is able to be used potentially in 50 years time which is guaranteed life of the media. Will we be able to read the data formats used (TIFF, SQL load files, CSV) in 2056 ? We have tried to select as open generic formats as possible but we need to document how the data is accessed as in the future we may need to be emulating the environments of today on some future computing platform.
There is an interesting precedent.. The BBC’s Domesday Project of 1986 based on a BBC model B micro and LV disc was rescued from its unreadable state by the National Archives a couple of years ago.
Written and submitted from the Holiday Inn Express Southampton, using my Vodafone 3G network card.