Artic World Archive, the Norwegian mine that preserves data on ice

Artic World Archive is an alternative to the cloud that allows you to store any type of information (documents, images, sounds, videos) with a more secure conservation in the absence of the possibility of piracy or manipulation.

In the technological sector, as in textiles, fashions tend to reproduce relatively quickly, in a sort of circle in which everything aged ends up getting back on the table.

Proof of this is the very concept of computing, in which centralist and decentralizing visions have alternated with equal force: from the mainframe to the client-server, back to the center with the cloud and again dispersed with the Edge computing .

The same happens, if we allow the parallelism, with the storage of information. And, when it seemed that magnetic tape drives were doomed to oblivion in favor of large-scale storage in the cloud … the Norwegians have come to reinvent the wheel.

Let’s go by parts. Currently, the storage segment is experiencing a particular escalation to the cloud services in search of greater cost savings, agility and flexibility in accessing stored data and practically assured availability. Against? The demanding regulations in certain areas of activity and cybersecurity.

And this last point, concerns about cybersecurity, is what they have taken as a starting point in the northernmost part of the planet to take the next step. And is that, although the cloud is much safer than making a backup on a hard drive (or let’s say in a removable memory), is there something more secure than a movie hidden in an abandoned mine?

As they read it: the next step of digital storage is to store information in films that are capable of surviving for decades in a safe location, but impossible to access. All contrary to what is required to cloud storage, but guaranteeing that absolute security.

This project is called Artic World Archive and seeks to be an alternative to the cloud that allows storing any type of information (documents, images, sounds, videos) with “a more secure conservation in the absence of the possibility of piracy or manipulation”, indicate from Innovation Norway.

Not in vain, storage is made in the Svalbard archipelago (Norway), one of the most remote and geo-politically stable locations on Earth.

Why there

The first thing we have to say is that the idea of ​​safeguarding valuable assets in the cold Nordic locations is nothing new. In fact, the Artic World Archive is inspired in turn by the Global Seed Vault, located in the same locality and where seeds of thousands of plant species from all over the world are stored for replanting in case of natural disaster.

Drawing the parallelism, this time we wanted to create an ultra-secure data vault to protect our digital memory.

For this, its promoters opted to reuse the mine number 3, right in which was the Seed Vault in 1984, long before the construction of its current building.

In any case, Svalbard is an excellent location for several reasons. Besides being close to the North Pole, with which the conservation needs are practically minimal, the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 (signed by 43 countries, including the US, Russia and China) declares this region as a demilitarized zone and without military activity.

How these movies work

The Arctic World Archive is, as we say, a data vault for any type of content that deserves ultra-secure and long-term storage, such as documents, sound, images and videos.

Its impellers ensure that, by storing this data offline, in a remote location and whose access is only granted on request, it is practically impossible for anyone to manipulate or steal the information. The climate does the same to ensure that the data can be accessed by future generations.

From a technical point of view, the content is written in piqlFilm, a film format that can hold data for centuries.

In each specific case, a process is designed to store the content in digital format as bits and bytes, or in a visual format so that text and images can be seen with the human eye.

Once the files in question have been transferred, they are printed in this format with elements added as a recommended file and with related metadata.

The piql film is sent securely to Svalbard and placed in the Arctic World File, where it can be “stored and ignored” for as long as necessary.

When you want to recover the movie, you only need to request it so that -not immediately- we are sent, either in physical format, or in the cloud.

What data are there

In March 2017, the Arctic World Archive was officially inaugurated. The National Archives of Brazil and Mexico, and the Norwegian Intermunicipal Digital Archives (KDRS) were the first to deposit data in the vault.

However, its creators are open to all kinds of public bodies and companies that need to make use of this kind of storage infrastructure. In fact, there are already some companies that offer services to store our genealogical information for future generations in this Norwegian mine.

Also part of the recent history of Spain is safeguarded in that digital mine. Recently, the Felipe González Foundation stored there numerous memories of the political history of Spain, including transcripts of secret preconstitutional meetings in 1976 and 1977, handwritten notes of the former president of the government during important political events and photographs that capture transcendental moments and daily life of your activity.