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Information Technology

The information technology component of NCPTT is primarily responsible for information management of grants and projects, the NCPTT website, in-office computer systems, and product distribution.

NCPTT’s in-house PTT grants system has completed the application and selection cycle for 2008 as well as the application cycle for 2009. Ongoing improvement of the PTT Grant application form has consolidated the application into a single page. Applicants reiterated requests for the ability to submit attachments. NCPTT will add this feature for the next grant cycle. Similarly, the NCPTT intranet site has been revised to address requests of program chiefs. Additional modifications are under development to continue migration from paper systems to a fully electronic system.

NCPTT Website

The NCPTT website serves as a primary vehicle for establishing NCPTT as an authority on preservation technology research and training. The website promotes training, in-house research and PTTGrants products.

NCPTT’s efforts with search engine optimization (SEO) have paid off as the Center has climbed into first page Google search rankings for keyterms like limewash, cemetery training, archeology training, and preservation degree, for example.

Throughout FY2008, additional content including videos and publications have been added to the site. NCPTT will migrate its website to the popular WordPress content management system. This application will decrease turnaround time, dramatically increasing the amount of quality information NCPTT is able to post to the web. Additionally, the site will be more search-engine friendly and allow NCPTT content to be syndicated on other sites. This migration will be completed by the beginning of the 2009 calendar year.

Website Statistics
NCPTT web statistics are based on server log files analyzed by a third party utility called WebLog Expert.

*FY 2005 – June 7, 2005-Sept. 30, 2005. NCPTT changed servers and launched the first re-design on June 7, 2005. Log files from the old servers were not available for analysis.
**Unique visitors are based on unique IP addresses in that specific year. Unique visitors for the entire period are therefore not equal to the sum of these numbers.

A visitor is a client who views the website within a single session. For example, one person viewing the site once per week for five weeks would count as five visitors.

A unique visitor is a single client regardless of how many times that client visits the website. This metric is based on IP Addresses. Each computer on the internet has either a temporary or permanent address assigned to it in order to send and receive information.

A page view is a single request for a web page sent by a visitor’s computer. A single page view can result in multiple hits (e.g. multiple images and other elements on a web page).

2005-2008 Website Statistics by Month MonthVisitorsPage ViewsEvent

Activity by Month – Visitors to the website by month. Activity rose sharply at the beginning of FY2006, peaking between April and September of 2006. Since June of 2005, NCPTT has served nearly 25 million pages to over 280,000 unique visitors. After the June 2005 design was launched, traffic grew as search engines indexed the NCPTT website and steadily increased with the addition of updates to the Hurricane Preservation Technical Assistance section and traffic from NPS. A redesign, as well as additions to the product catalog, heavy traffic from Google and other search engines, training marketing, mailings of the print version of the product catalog, and traffic from referring sites combined to result in a dramatic surge in visitors during the summer of 2006 with additional spikes in 2007 during periods of traditional direct-mail marketing for training and the January 2007 TELNPS course.

Page views and overall visitors have decreased while the number of unique visitors has risen, indicating that repeat visitors may not be easily locating the information they are searching for although new content is regularly added to the web site. To address this, we are in the process of migrating our web site and product catalog to WordPress, the gold standard for web-publishing. This system provides multiple paths to easily access content. These “paths” include everything from RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, to tag clouds for quickly locating the most extensive content, to the automatic listing of related pages.

The open-source WordPress platform provides a foundation for the development of web-based applications built on the plug-in model which will provide the added benefit of releasing internally developed modules back to the open source community. NCPTT-developed modules will allow users without technical expertise to plug applications into their WordPress-enabled web sites.

FY 2008 Most Popular Sections by Page Views (excludes home page and search)

  1. Product Catalog: 297,326
  2. Training: 238,423
  3. News: 200,559
  4. PTTBoard Reports: 190,104
  5. NCPTT Notes: 113,685
  6. Cemetery: 74,852
  7. Archeology & Collections: 71,747
  8. Grants: 65,397
  9. Heritage Education: 59,758
  10. Contact Us: 51,395

2008 Most Popular Print Products Downloaded

  1. Historic American Timber Joinery – A graphic guide (2004-08): 8,598
  2. Timber Framing: No. 71, March 2004 (2004-11): 4,938
  3. Timber Framing: No. 67, March 2003 (2004-09): 4,781
  4. Timber Framing: No. 73, September 2004 (2004-13): 4,461
  5. Nondestructive Method for Hardness Evaluation of Mortars (1999-02): 4,461
  6. Timber Framing: No. 69, September 2003 (2004-10): 3,590
  7. Manual on Conservation Methodology for Historic Buildings and Structures (1997-07): 2,720
  8. Load Paths in Historic Truss Bridges (2004-25): 2,636
  9. Study on the Durability of Traditional and Modified Limewash Recipes: 2,427
  10. Digital Image Analysis of Petrographic Thin Sections in Conservation Research (2004-01): 2,253

2008 Most Popular Video Products Downloaded

  1. Cleaning a Stone Grave Marker (2007-01): 5,113
  2. Iron Fence Repair (2007-03): 4,638
  3. Building Dry Stone Retaining Walls (2002-06) : 4,282
  4. Walls of Stone: How to Build Drystone Walls and Rock Fences (1996-01): 2,617
  5. Glass and Stained Glass Conservation (1998-28): 1,736
  6. Culture Shock: Fire Protection for Historic and Cultural Property (1995-01): 1,166
  7. Secret of Lake Meade (2004-17): 790
  8. Application of Advanced Computer Simulation and Visualization to Enhance Cultural Resources Documentation (1997-06): 700
  9. USS Arizona: Preserving a War Memorial (2004-23): 743
  10. Dry Tortugas: Searching for the Windjammer Avanti (2004-22): 658

Software Development Projects

In conjunction with the Louisiana Army National Guard (LAARNG) and NCPTT’s Archeology and Collections Program, Information Technology has converted a paper-based site vulnerability assessment form into a web based format and integrated it with the LAARNG archaeological site database. The purpose of this project is to simplify the identification of the most vulnerable archeological sites and allocate resources to monitor these sites more closely. This project is largely complete. Changes will be implemented based on feedback and additional GIS queries from the LAARNG.

The Historic Landscapes program and IT continue to collaborate on the development of a tool for landscape management for use by landscape architects and groundskeeping staff via GPS-enabled portable computers.

During 2008, NCPTT has worked with the Historic Preservation Grants program to photograph hurricane recovery grant projects, collect audio interviews, and develop a web site to document the recovery work performed by homeowners and the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi SHPOs. This project is expected to be complete in early 2009.

In-office Computer Systems
NCPTT’s IT department faces many of the same challenges as larger IT departments. Of particular emphasis has been security, data storage and disaster recovery. The IT staff strives to stay ahead of the curve in these areas but recent major events nationally and on the state level have caused the Center’s IT staff to address these issues at greater length. The IT staff is confident that its continued diligence in these areas will continue to safeguard the NCPTT’s electronic data.

The Center’s IT staff has implemented new stringent log-on procedures for all workstations in the office and has updated security patches for all NCPTT servers. Last spring, staff installed and configured Extensis Portfolio 8.5.2 in order to increase data management of NCPTT’s growing knowledge base. Portfolio is a powerful digital asset management tool that allows users to visually organize, sort, and preview NCPTT’s complete library of images and other digital assets.

This fall the IT staff has been upgrading the network and server hardware at the Center. Four new servers will be phased in to increase storage space and replace some aging servers. Of note will be the replacement of the DHCP server and both DNS servers.

A new, more powerful web server will be brought online as well. The replaced web server will be sent to the WASO IT office with an exact replica of the website that is on the new web server. This replica server will enable the Center to quickly get its website online if a catastrophic event takes NCPTT’s website offline. The WASO IT office has plans to store one of their servers in Center IT spaces for similar reasons.

Disaster recovery is a key component of the Center’s IT disaster preparedness plan. Currently a weekly backup of the primary office electronic data is stored off-site. One of the new hardware upgrades is the purchase of a large scale tape backup machine. This will enable a more comprehensive daily and weekly backup of all electronic data in the office. Due to storage restrictions, some non-critical data is backed up on a monthly basis. The new backup machine will enhance the timeliness of all data as well as increase the speed in which to recover data on short notice.

Of equal concern to IT staffers is security. Currently, NCPTT has a firewall layer between itself and the internet. One of the new hardware purchases was an additional firewall that will give the Center a second layer of security between itself and the outside world. NCPTT has been relatively free of intrusions but malicious attacks from the outside are always a concern.

The final hardware upgrade is a new Cisco switch that will replace an aging switch that has been in place since the Center opened at its current location in 2001. This switch will increase reliability and network speed.

Product Distribution
One of the major functions of the NCPTT web site is to provide a central location to search for preservation products. In the past year, approximately 329 product orders were mailed to the public by NCPTT IT staff. The majority of these orders were submitted via the online product catalog, averaging seven products per order.

Additionally, the contacts on NCPTT’s mailing list were added to Contact Management Pro. This new mailing list management system aids in the editing of mailing recipients and helps to ensure deliverance of all outgoing mail including NCPTT marketing materials and other products.

The Top 5 Ordered Products (physical copies)

  • Cleaning a Stone Grave Marker (2007-01)
  • Resetting a Stone Grave Marker (2007-02)
  • Basics for Iron Fence Care (2007-03)
  • Protective Glazing Study (1996-06)
  • Preservation Resource Guide for Public Works Manager (1998-01)

NCPTT VHS products were phased out this year with master copies being converted to DVD videos. The VHS copies will be archived. All future requests for video will be mailed DVD videos unless VHS is specifically requested.

NCPTT Library

NCPTT has completely cataloged all the center’s library books into the Procite database. Forty-three new books were added to the library this year.

TELNPS/GovTrip Webex Training
The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Network allows thousands of National Park Service and other federal employees to receive competency-based training at or near their work site at little or no cost to them. The network has over 230 receiving stations across the Service spanning five time zones. The highly interactive training allows students immediate access to their instructor. This interactivity is the key component to the success of broad and varied training opportunities.

From Oct. 1, 2007 through Sept. 30, 2008, 19 classes were taken at NCPTT with 79 participants. Some of those participating were staff from the Cane River Creole National Historical Park and the Cane River National Heritage Area Commission. January 2008 was a particularly busy month of training at the Center due to the GovTrip Webex training that was being conducted by the Park Service. Thirty participants from the Center and local parks took part in GovTrip Webex training over several days to be ready for the new DOI travel system.

The installation of the TELNPS station at NCPTT has provided Center employees and NPS employees from the surrounding area with the opportunity to gain high quality training specific to their jobs at a convenient location. The Center is excited to be a part of the NPS’s continued growth of interactive distance learning activities.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119