This article originally appeared in the February/March 2016 edition of Education Technology magazine.

Universities in the UK produce some of the world’s most valuable research, answering questions that have challenged some of the sharpest academic minds for decades. UK universities are working to change our understanding of the world and as the resulting knowledge and data steadily grows, institutions know that this is often far from an instant process. The invaluable findings of these research projects must also be safely preserved and cared for, not only so that work in progress can be safeguarded and built upon, but to ensure that future generations can benefit from the research outputs being generated today.

Standing the test of time

It’s no secret that technology is playing a significant role in the majority of modern research projects. Researchers are using cutting-edge technology to carry out their work and are rapidly amassing vast amounts of digital data as a result. With a need to suddenly find a safe place to keep this data, many are turning to digital storage and archiving solutions.

The need for digital storage that will stand the test of time is also becoming more than just a practical necessity for universities, it is now a regulatory requirement as research-funding bodies such as RCUK (Research Councils UK) are imposing stricter requirements than ever before on how research data is stored and made accessible. Now, this is an issue that is affecting researchers nationwide, as universities must find a way to secure their rapidly expanding collections of research data in a way that guarantees to keep it perfectly safe for extended periods of time, while also making it accessible for other researchers (who may be in completely different institutions).

Many decades

This is where Arkivum comes into the equation. A UK-leading provider of long-term, ultra-secure storage solutions for large-scale data, Arkivum provides data storage services for one in two of the top 60 ranked UK universities, and estimates that today, UK universities have collectively accumulated nearly an exabyte of data (that’s 1000 petabytes, or 1,000,000 terabytes).

A relatively new company, founded in 2011, Arkivum has high-profile clients across various sectors, including healthcare, life sciences and heritage and culture. However, the academic roots of the business have earned it a particularly large following in the education sector. Itself a spinout from the University of Southampton, Arkivum offers its customers a 100% data integrity guarantee, assuring customers that the data it archives will be actively managed and returned in the exact condition that it was deposited, whether that be 10, 15 or 25 years from now.

It’s the future

Arkivum was able to tackle this issue for the University of Loughborough and the University of Salford with a game-changing system developed in partnership with Figshare, a research data management discovery platform. Together, the two created a system that integrates Figshare’s metadata and sharing capabilities with Arkivum’s long-term data archiving capabilities. This innovative solution not only ensures that the longevity and security required to meet the new funding mandates is in place, but also provides a way for researchers from various institutions to locate and retrieve specific items from within the archive when required.

Solutions such as this are the future for universities. The technology that today’s researchers are using to carry out their work is set only to improve, new discoveries are going to be made and the vast collections of data that we are struggling to preserve right now are only going to continue growing. Data is becoming gold dust and universities are recognising the need to preserve and protect it. It is vital that universities embrace not only the marvels and efficiency of the technology they are using, but also the value of their research data, and that they are also aware that there are organisations such as Arkivum on hand to help.