This paper is part of the 2017 3D Digital Documentation Summit.
Technology for the People: Developing a Low Cost Heritage Documentation Kit to spur Innovation in Digital Preservation
Our Heritage is at risk. Cultural heritage sites are becoming collateral victims of the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, both natural and human induced. Last year, with help from a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), CyArk developed a low-cost heritage documentation kit for use by heritage professionals around the world. CyArk believes that through technological advancements and harnessing the collective power of non-technical heritage professionals and non-professional technology enthusiasts, we can counter the loss of our heritage by creating a global community of digital preservationists.
The kit includes a digital camera, laser distance meter, tablet computer, GPS receiver and a compact tripod. Accompanying the kit are video tutorials on how to digitally document a site as well as upload the data to the internet. This inexpensive system, under $1500, can be deployed quickly and relies on advances in photogrammetry software combined with limited laser scan measurements to quickly and accurately document heritage sites requiring only moderate technical ability. Three kits were deployed by CyArk and were given to the the Center of Preservation Research (CoPR) at the university of Colorado Denver, the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML) and UNESCO.The hardware inventory and accompanying materials are made freely available to any interested parties via the CyArk website.
While we cannot physically save all at-risk heritage sites, empowering more individuals with the skills to perform 3D digital documentation paired with archiving can be the first step to save our history. This baseline can then serve as the foundation to a complete subsequent documentation and enable future conservation of the sites.
Following work on the heritage documentation kit and motivated by software developments over the past several years that allow laser scan data to be used in conjunction with photogrammetric documentation, CyArk has revamped its own heritage documentation methods in order to utilize both technologies to the fullest degree. The combination of both datasets has resulted in more realistic digital models with even higher resolution, providing the most accurate documentation to date of a site and allowing future site managers to better gauge deterioration over time. In previous work CyArk aimed to document sites within a margin of error of 5 mm where new methods are projected to provide submillimetre accuracy.
CyArk’s principle capture technology remains LiDAR laser scanning as it provides an incredibly accurate and measurable mesh model of the site. However, CyArk increasingly employs UAV’s and photogrammetry rigs (with multiple cameras mounted in concert) to capture thousands of photos that can be used to create an additional mesh that can be combined with the LiDAR model. Digital models produced from photogrammetry are incredibly realistic and are excellent ways to visually communicate the story of a site in a way that is easily understood by the public. Using both technologies, CyArk is able to produce a larger array of deliverables which can be used for a variety of conservation purposes as well as new interactive and immersive displays.
CyArk will present a case study of this process as utilized In June, 2016 when LiDAR and photogrammetry techniques were used to document a 12th Century Buddhist temple in central Myanmar. Just a few months later, in August, 2016, the same temple was damaged in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake. CyArk was able to return to the site to document the temple using the same methods. The extremely accurate models that were created from both field visits can be analyzed side by side to evaluate areas of damage and identify structural weakness.
Scott Lee is a technology and cultural heritage expert currently serving as the Director of Operations for CyArk, an international non-profit organization. Mr. Lee coordinates all aspects of CyArk’s programs which capture, archive and enable virtual access to the world’s cultural heritage. He has worked on over 100 cultural heritage sites including training international professionals in collaboration with UNESCO and multiple foreign ministries. Mr. Lee comes from a background in Architecture and Design, completing a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Oregon with a focus on sustainable design. Mr. Lee is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Committee for Documentation of Cultural Heritage (CIPA).
Kacey Hadick received his BA in Archaeology from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and a Master’s in World Heritage Management and Cultural Projects for Development from the University of Turin, Italy. He has worked as an archaeologist for five years and has collaborated extensively with Native American communities in California and Nevada. His research interests include human effects on the natural environment and utilizing technology and culture as catalysts for economic development. His work has been published in the University of California Press, the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology and American Antiquity.