Taking immutable notes

I am required to keep a record of my dog’s training (search and rescue). The idea being that these records may be needed in a court case. Training records may show how a dog’s training and thus behavior is biased (or not) in a certain way. This sort of journaling is traditionally done old style with p&p.

Being more of the electronic persuasion, I rather much keep records in my phone/iPad instead - however, these can be easily altered later on.

Is there a system/method/application (perhaps already used in court) which permits note taking and once saved can no longer be edited and corrections showing the previous uncorrected record? I.e. a journaling system that creates immutable records.

There may be an app that makes this process smoother than the share sheet, but I’d email either the text of the notes or a PDF to yourself or to someone else for retention. If your email isn’t sufficient (i.e., your IT doesn’t retain it long enough), you might need to print copies. It’d be much nicer to print once a month than to write everything by hand.

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It is not so much the retention part that is important but rather the fact that the notes should be not be possible to alter. PDF, sending into email etc does not prevent changing later on and therefore in court anyone could question the truthfulness of these.

You can make PDFs that can’t be changed. Part of the se unity settings like requiring a password to view, prohibit printing, etc.

Beyond that it might require a blockchain based record.

You could take a look at Git if you haven’t already? It takes a different approach in the sense that it doesn’t restrict editing but keeps a record of every change ever made. (You will have to tell it when you’re done editing but otherwise it’s pretty much automagic)



Yeah, funny you mention GIT - its the first thing I thought of. It seems hard to do a commit from ones phone to a GIT repo though. Perhaps I should experiment a bit to figure out how this could work. Also, a GIT repo is not immutable (though hard to mess with)… hmm

Ah? how would I create unchangable PDFs? Which application or applications to use?

Right. Not immutable but history is completely visible. Checkout the Macstories link I added which explains how they use it on iPad for collaborative editing. They’re using an app called Working Copy which works on iPhone too. You can use iA Writer as your editor and get the whole flow pretty smooth :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Good luck!

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Using Markdown in GitHub you can bring those files into Marked2 and using a template create nice looking PDFs, you can then round trip those back to GitHub as saved and versioned.

The written history must be certifiable at any point in the future, not immutable in the process of being created. This means, someone should be able to deconstruct when something was written to the log and, if needed, prove that what was reported as being written at that date/time stamp really was written at that date/time stamp. History does not go bad because we write margin notes to it a few days later. History goes bad because we write something today and post-date (or pre-date) it for a time that was not observed.

Electronic records have the same requirement. It is not that you are not permitted to alter them, it is that your alterations must be date/time stamped and documented equally diligently.

Use your iPad / iPhone to write as a normal pad + pen process. You will still have to date+time stamp your hand records.

Immediately after you are done with the record, create a PDF + PNG/JPG snapshot of the page. As soon as possible, print that record, date+time stamp the printing, and store it in a physical file folder. When also possible, create a ZIP archive of that page.

Check with an attorney on whether all or some of these types of redundancy in your method would be certifiable should the need arise. Doing this kind of electronic note keeping must by now have a process that has a standard certifiable approach. Perhaps the search and rescue world just needs to catch up with what that process is.



This is an excellent description, very clear and much more precise than my original statement. Thanks, I can use this to better focus on a solution.

Oh I see now, yes there is a lot of meat in the articles you linked, thanks.

It would require something like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. I use PdfPenPro which doesn’t support this feature.

I’d consult a lawyer, or someone knowledgeable in the training community to determine what, exactly, is required. If pen and paper are sufficient then the requirement for proving veracity can’t be too strong. If they are then I can’t imagine any method of record keeping in which you retain sole possession of the records would be acceptable (might be wrong about that, but I suspect it would be highly non-trivial).

If a reasonably reliable way of dating a document like this is needed, a simple way would be to email yourself (to an account on a service that you don’t manage yourself) each journal entry after it’s complete. That’ll give you a dated copy of each entry with the date having been assigned by (let’s say) Google.


Brilliant response! I second this thought.

But, being knowledgeable of the law, probably wouldn’t want to be responsible for the free advice given (and rightfully so).

Here’s an app that seems to do what you want. A couple of reviews are by people in medical fields.


I’d consult a lawyer too.

Laws and procedures vary from place to place, so you need local (that is: local to where you might need that kind of info) advice.

And, if a court has it’s own requirements, you could be forced to follow those requirements, not something else that achieves the same result.

I mean, if the law or the court requires a pdf timestamped by an authoriser third party that’s what you need, no matter if you have a better and more secure solution.

Me, I am just curious about what type of court case one can be subject to and what would trigger a lawsuit against a search & rescue dog or its handler.

Is this part of a quality control type of thing to ensure that dogs are trained to a common level before transferering them to first responders / rescue teams in daily operations?

Data (a note) that are supposed to be verifiably immutable from the creation time could theoretically be stored with blockchain. I don’t know of anyone offering that service, but it might be worth looking around. Issues of course are: the process is not simple, and deciding to trust the service provider might be a challenge.