For those who are worried about the end of days, there is a small glimmer of good news coming from Norway. At least data will survive.
The Arctic World Archive, which officially opened on March 27, is located 500 feet below ground in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Its mission: to preserve important data from individuals, organizations and governments from around the world.
Svalbard was carefully chosen by Piql, the Norwegian technology firm pioneering the project, both because of its cold, dry weather and because of its relatively safe location in a demilitarized zone. It called the location “the safest place on the planet for a ‘digital embassy.”
The library will stand in good company. It will neighbor the Global Seed Vault—colloquially called the Doomsday Vault—which contains 556 million seeds that could be utilized if Earth’s crops were wiped out due to a disaster. In 2015, scientists in Syria used seeds from the vault to replace samples lost as a result of the civil war raging there.
“Like what the Global Seed Vault is doing for plants, the Arctic World Archive is now doing for the world’s digital heritage,” said Katrine Thomsen, project manager at Piql.
Works archived will be stored on a special film developed by Piql, and kept at a constant temperature in a mine frozen in permafrost. Piql said that, with the technology, the film would be preserved for up to 1000 years. The company uses film, rather than more modern means of data storage, because it is not vulnerable to manipulation or cyberattacks.
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