As part of our Remote Site Surveillance event in August of 2008, which I’ve mentioned in the prior two blog posts, we are working to enhance the joint U.S. Forest Service–Louisiana Army National Guard’s “Site Vulnerability Assessment Model.” This effort also has direct bearing on Preserve America, in some strange way. The vulnerability model, quite simply, consists of a sheet of paper with a bunch of questions that help land managers determine how vulnerable a site is to destruction (e.g., looting or erosion), and where extremely scarce surveillance resources should go. It consists of a series of penetrating questions like, “does it look like it’s being looted?,” “how far is it from the road?,” and “is it important to the tribes or local community?”
But okay, I may be downplaying this too much. It’s really much more involved than I have let on. In reality it consists of three sheets of paper. Yet Martin McAllister, one of the great dons of ARPA training for feds, says he often references the model in his classes, because most federal land managers have yet to come up with or employ anything this sophisticated. Sigh.
One of the specific recommendations from the Preserve America summit’s “Addressing Security Panel” was to “develop risk assessment methods appropriate for…archaeological properties” (p12). In my mind that is exactly what the model is doing. NCPTT’s efforts to automate that process using GIS and state site file data simply make it functional in the digital world. Next stop? Data tablets and PDAs in the field….or maybe just a nice binder for the sheets of paper.
—David W. Morgan (NCPTT, A&C, blog 4)
P.S. Our IT guru will release open-source code for the vulnerability model in the near future, so that land managers anywhere can adopt the USFS-LAARNG system for their use.