The EU has released open source software tools to access its mountain of digitally stored data.
The EU's CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval) research project will sort and make accessible the mounds of data stored in EU archives.
Funded by an €8.8m (£7.3m) grant from the EC’s Sixth Framework Programme, the €15m (£12.5m) CASPAR software will see formerly inaccessible old data in different formats being rescued, viewed and used by the state and private sectors.
CASPAR will also be used to preserve the EU's digital data for future posterity.
Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said of the release: "Digital information is extremely vulnerable and also extremely valuable. Anyone who has lost access to family photos or old documents will know the frustration of dealing with incompatible technologies.
“I am very excited by the potential of CASPAR's tools and techniques to ensure sustained quality of and access to valuable data in the future," she added.
CASPAR also ensures that data can be understood and linked with other datasets in whatever format, and for whatever research, scientists in the future might wish.
The CASPAR open source software is available for free download from the sourceforge web site, and for further development into commercial applications.
The software methods have been tested successfully with data from science, cultural heritage and contemporary performing arts.