The ultimate survival resource is now open for business on a remote Norwegian island.
Svalbard, Norway – already home to the Global Seed Vault – is now home to the Arctic World Archive, which is being billed as the keeper of information to rebuild civilization following a societal-ending apocalypse.
The vault located in an abandoned coalmine on the island of Svalbard is designed to be the ultimate data storage solution, The Verge reported. Data will be recorded on special film that can last as long as 1,000 years and stored 984 feet (300 meters) underground. The film is expected to last that long because of the extreme cold on the island, which is 1,172 miles north of Oslo.
“Located in a disaster-proof vault, the information is kept in permafrost conditions far away from political and physical instabilities in the rest of the world,” a brochure for the archive reads. “The Arctic World Archive is for any country, authority, organization, company or individual in need of ultra-secure storage of their valuable information with guaranteed access in the future.”
It is a first for the world.
Data Is Recorded Using QR Codes
“No energy is needed whatsoever to maintain these temperatures,” said Rune Bjerkestrand, the founder of Piqi, the company that is recording the data. “Deep in the permafrost it’s minus 5, minus 10 degrees [Celsius], and it’s also quite a dry area. So cold and dry: it’s perfect for the long-term storage of film.”
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The data is recorded via QR (Quick Read) codes, Bjerkestrand explained. QR Codes can be read by smart phones.
“Film is an optical medium, so what we do is, we take files of any kind of data — documents, PDFs, JPGs, TIFFs — and we convert that into big, high-density QR codes,” Bjerkestrand said. “Our QR codes are massive, and very high resolution; we use greyscale to get more data into every code. And in this way we convert a visual storage medium, film, into a digital one.”
The archive is a for-profit venture of Piqi and Norway’s national mining company, SNSK. The first customers were the directors of the national archives of Brazil and Mexico, ABC reported. The Brazilians deposited copies of their constitution and an edict from the Emperor of Brazil abolishing slavery in their country. The Mexicans left a copy of their declaration of independence from Spain.
The purpose of the archive is to protect “the globe’s most valuable data from future catastrophes, war and cyberattack as well as future technological obsolescence,” Bjerkestrand said.
‘What Happens in Wars …’
Another purpose is to keep the data of large corporations safe in case of a catastrophe.
“Historically what happens in wars — in the early stages of wars — is that archives are destroyed,” Bjerkestrand said. “So to have an archive which is protected, in a remote place which is regulated by international treaties, gives it that extra security that things cannot be manipulated or attacked.”
Svalbard, the home of the Global Seed Vault, cannot be used for military purposes because of international treaties. Despite that, getting data to and from the Artic World Archive is easy.
Digital data can be sent there via an optic Internet connection from the mainland, Bjerkestrand said.
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