Digital genome safeguards dying data formats

Scientists carried a time capsule through a labyrinth of tunnels and five security zones to a vault near the slopes of Resort Gstaad. The sealed box containing the key to unpick defunct digital formats will be locked away for the next quarter of a century behind a 3-1/2 tonne door strong enough to resist nuclear attack at the data storage facility, the Swiss Fort Knox.
The capsule is the culmination of the four-year “Planets” project. “The time capsule being deposited inside Swiss Fort Knox contains the digital equivalent of the genetic code of different data formats, a ‘digital genome’,” said Farquhar, coordinator of the 15 million-euro project.

100 GB of data, equivalent to 24 tonnes of books, has already been created for every single individual on the planet, ranging from holiday snaps to health records, project organisers said, adding this amounted to over 1 trillion CDs worth of data across the globe.
But as technological breakthroughs help people to live longer, the lifespan of technology gets shorter, meaning the European Union alone loses digital information worth at least 3 billion euros every year, they said.

The project hopes to preserve “data DNA”, the tools to access and read historical digital material and prevent digital memory loss into the next century.

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