"Doomsday Vault" Will Protect Precious Data In The Event Of A Global Catastrophe


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Piql employees posing inside Arctic World Archive (Photo Credit: Piql)

Governments, corporations, and even individuals concerned about losing valuable data or photos in the event of a cataclysmic disaster can now rest easy thanks to the recently opened Arctic World Archive. Located 300-meters (984-feet) below the ground inside an abandoned coal mine in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the “Doomsday Vault” is equipped to keep information safe in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe.

The vault, which opened its doors on March 27, is located in the same mountain as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a nonprofit repository to protect the world's seeds. It is a collaboration between Norwegian state mining company SNSK and tech company Piql, which has developed technology to store data offline in a non-digital manner by transferring it onto long-lasting photosensitive film. Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand says, “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.”

Svalbard global see vault (Photo Credit: SGSV via Flickr)

Once printed, the physical rolls cannot be edited and are also not susceptible to cyber attacks like digitally-stored data. Clients wishing to access their stored information can either scan the film with one of the company’s scanners or use a magnifying light to capture it with a camera. The resulting images can be used to reconstruct the data.

Strong enough to survive even a nuclear attack, the underground mine sports the perfect temperature and level of humidity to store the film. The company asserts that thanks to the ideal conditions, the data will remain preserved for anywhere from 500 to 1000 years!

Display containers that hold coded data on reels of film (Photo Credit: Piql)

The company’s current clients include the governments of Mexico and Brazil. The former is using the “Doomsday Vault” to store historical documents dating back to the Inca civilization, while Brazil is safeguarding documents relating to the Constitution. While these are important documents to save for future generations, Piql is willing and able to store any kind of data, from meteorological observations to manufacturing plans and even classical literature. Though the company does not reveal the cost, Katrine Thomsen, project manager for the Arctic World Archive, says, “In the long-term, our solution is much more affordable than other digital storage solutions, where people have to migrate the data all the time.”

Resources: digitaltrends.com, theverge.com,environews.com

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