One Instance of Atom System sponsored by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), to be used by all government archives in South Africa

Wednesday, 27 May, 2020

The Single Instance of the AtoM System went live on 25 November 2019 and is now available to be used by all provincial archives. The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA) is currently assisting all provincial archives repositories in getting access to the AtoM System.
'AtoM' is an acronym for 'Access to Memory'. ICA AtoM is a web-based archival description software that is based on International Council on Archives (ICA) standards viz. Encoded Archival Description, to make it easy for archival institutions worldwide to put their archival holdings online.
Due to the successful implementation of the AtoM System as part of the Revamping of the National Automated Archival Information System (NAAIRS) Project at NARSSA in 2017, it was decided that the AtoM System should also be rolled out to all provincial archives which will make participation by provincial archives in the NAAIRS much easier. A new project viz. the Single Instance AtoM Implementation was launched in 2018 by the then Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), NARSSA and State Information Technology Agency (SITA).
The objective of the Single Instance of AtoM Project was the customisation and implementation of the AtoM System by the DAC, NARSSA and the SITA to cater for usage and participation by all Provincial Archives, which are compelled to participate in the NAAIRS, in terms of Section 3 (e) and Section3 (g) of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act No. 43 of 1996, as amended).
The aim of the development of the Single Instance of AtoM System was to:

  • modernise archival systems in the country viz. National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS), e.g. provide provincial archives with the functionality to contribute to the NAAIRS electronically;
  • standardise archival descriptions in line with international best practise in order to ensure easy online access to digital archival records, either to identify or locate archival records held in government archives throughout South Africa;
  • give provincial archives the opportunity to manage their own data in the NAAIRS and their archival holdings by implementing a standardised electronic archival management system thus increasing access to archival holdings; and
  • setting the archival system up in South Africa to ingest digital records (digitised and borne-digital) into government archival repositories.

Officials of the different national and provincial archives repositories participated in the development of the new system. They also took part in the user acceptance testing of the new system, for the benefit of all government archival institutions in South Africa. The DAC sponsored training of super users of all provincial archival institutions, who in turn are expected to train other users in their respective provinces.
The new AtoM System are hosted and maintained on the SITA Private-on-Premise Cloud Foundation Infrastructure (CFI) within the Government Private Cloud Ecosystem (GPCE). The GPCE is a platform for Digital Transformation using an ecosystem of securely interconnected, vendor-agnostic cloud variants, managed and supported by SITA to digitally transform the South African Government.
From 1 April 2020 all provincial archives have access to the AtoM System and have to contribute to the costs of running, maintaining and supporting the system. Although the DSAC will carry the bulk of the cost of the new system, e.g. the costs associated with the hosting of the AtoM System on the SITA CFI, from 1 April 2020 the NARSSA and each provincial archive using the AtoM System, will need to contribute to the payment of the monthly software maintenance and support services as provided by SITA.
The new system could potentially have a huge impact on government archival services in the country, as well as access to government archival information, if all government archival institutions use and contribute to the new system as required.

Published date: 
Wednesday, 27 May, 2020