Identifying Threats to Successful Digital Preservation: The SPOT Model for Risk Assessment

by: Sally Vermaaten, Brian Lavoie and Priscilla Caplan

Developing a successful digital preservation strategy amounts to accounting for, and mitigating, the impact of various threats to the accessibility and usability of digital materials over time. Typologies of threats are practical tools that can aid in the development of preservation strategies. This paper proposes a new outcome-based model, the Simple Property-Oriented Threat (SPOT) Model for Risk Assessment, which defines six essential properties of successful digital preservation and identifies a limited set of threats which, if manifested, would seriously diminish the ability of a repository to achieve these properties. We demonstrate that the SPOT Model possesses the attributes of conceptual clarity, balanced granularity, comprehensiveness and simplicity, and provide examples of practical uses of the model and suggestions for future work.

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Suggested Citation:

Vermaaten, Sally, Brian Lavoie and Priscilla Caplan. 2012. "Identifying Threats to Successful Digital preservation: The SPOT Model for Risk Assessment" D-Lib Magazine, 18,9/10 (September/October). Available online at