Named ARCHANGEL, the project is one of 3 blockchain ideas that the University of Surrey has won, the other 2 being voting and healthcare. Digital archiving is a rather complicated subject as computer files continuously change and become obsolete, the National Archives blog mentioned.For instance, a digital file from the late 1990s, will demand moving the content to a new file format in order to make it available in the future.
Supported by the University of Surrey and financed by the UK Open Data Institute and The National Archives, the ARCHANGEL uses blockchain technology to let archives to register hashes of documents onto a approved blockchain. Changes to the blockchain would only be made by authorized parties.
Although ARCHANGEL is completely functional, it stays a prototype constructed over the Ethereum infrastructure, according to a summary of the project in the Cornell University Library. The content hashing is presently done using standard binary hashing (for example, SHA-256).
As noted by the project developers in the Cornell summary, there is a concern in specialized hashing to specific document types like PDFs, images and video. Video suggests the ability to extract content-aware hashes of scanned documents sensitive to tampering but immune to factors such as imaging device or illumination.
The team is also deciding about integrating the W3C offered PROV standard for document version management since blocks can be supplemented only to supersede prior content from a blockchain. Currently the project uses smart contracts to write to the blockchain, but not to search or checking. Such opportunities can be explored in the future.