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BBS Data Rescue Project

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics' Data Recovery Center (BBS-DRC)

Over a period of many years, BBS staff have gathered and maintained extremely useful information on behalf of the government and people of Bangladesh. However, much of it was stored on computer media that is no longer in common use, and which has a limited shelf life. There are often far more pressing uses for technical and financial resources, other than preserving the content of old computer tapes. What to do?

In early 2006, Dr. Robert McCaa, director of IPUMS International visited BBS. IPUMS is part of the Minnesota Population Center, and has been called by the Journal of American History "one of the great archival projects of the past two decades". Part of what they do is to identify important population data from around the world, and make it available to researchers. A key aspect of the service is that the data is rendered into a form that preserves the statistical accuracy, yet also protects the privacy of individuals and groups within the country being studied. (Just how they do this is way over my pay grade. :-) It was determined that it would benefit both BBS and IPUMS to establish an on-site data recovery center.

Muller Media Conversions has been privileged to recover and convert data for IPUMS for several years. In 2006, several BBS tapes were sent to MMC to establish feasibility. After successful tests and a continuing dialogue with BBS, funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation enabled us to prepare equipment, software and training to implement the Data Recovery Center in Dhaka.

Then in late August 2008, we began a fascinating 6-week visit to Dhaka. The initial goal was to extract 1981 census microdata from about 200 reels of nine-track tape. That step was completed in mid-September. Now the BBS staff, having been trained by MMC, continue to use the facility to process several thousand other tapes of interest to Bangladesh government and academic statistical experts. Shown below are several of the key management, technical and operational staff. The gentleman in the center is Mr. Mohamed Nowsherwa, Director of the BBS Computer Department. Later, Mr. C.S. Roy, seated at the left became the data recovery project manager.

BBS management, staff, facility

We are grateful for the hospitality and cooperation of BBS during this project.

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