This new vault, officially known as the World Arctic Archive, shares the same mountain as the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard. Alongside Norwegian government , representatives of Brazil’s and Mexico’s National Archives will be the first to save copies of their files deep inside the permafrost.
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The World Arctic Archive is run by Piql, a company based in the Norwegian city of Drammen with only 17 employees. Piql has developed a technology that allows old-fashioned photosensitive films to store larger amounts of data in multiple layers in analog form. The film is designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear. Piql’s Katrine Loen Thomsen says:
We believe that we can save the data using our technology for a whole 1,000 years. It’s digital data preserved, written onto photosensitive film. So we write data as basically big QR codes on films.
The entire archive will be located in Mine 3, a former coal mine which was abandoned more than two decades back. Conditions inside the mine are very stable and are not affected by the change of seasons. Owing to permafrost, the temperature inside the mines hovers always below zero degree Celsius. Svalbard is is also a very safe place for the archive to be kept, because it is effectively a demilitarized zone.
The underground seed depository was opened in 2008 and acts as a master backup to the other seed banks around the world. Approximately 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops are thought to exist in the vault.