This paper is part of the 2017 3D Digital Documentation Summit.

Using UAVs to Rapidly Preserve Historic Structures in New Orleans, Louisiana

In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have become increasingly accessible to the public. Due to this expanded accessibility, users continue to develop new applications for low altitude aerial photography and photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of generating three dimensional data using properly aligned photographs to triangulate measurements of a landscape or structure. With the incorporation of GPS data, these 3D maps and models can achieve about one inch relative and absolute accuracy, meaning very highly accurate geolocation as well as scale information. While most people are applying this technology in engineering and architecture by modeling current structures so that they can be added to using Computer Aided Design programs, we believe that it can also be used as a preservation technique for individuals or municipalities with limited cultural resource management budgets.

The gulf coast is one of the nation’s most culturally rich landscapes, with New Orleans at its center. New Orleans is renowned for its unique blending of French, Spanish, and Caribbean architecture styles and brightly colored buildings. With the oncoming threat that climate change poses upon this port city, the documentation of these structures becomes critically important so that future generations can continue to maintain and repair the historic structures. Digital 3D models allow people to virtually experience and recreate the landscape of the city. This project aims to present techniques that ensure that the historic character and unique landscapes of cities can be documented and made available to future generations.

Our presentation will discuss the methodology and application of capturing and modeling city blocks within a Historic district of New Orleans, Louisiana. We will be presenting a technique which demonstrates a quick, affordable, and accurate means of historical documentation, and in our presentation we will discuss potential applications of 3D data as an educational tool.

Session topics:
● Use of drones/ UAVs for collecting imagery
● Climate change
● Community Engagement
● Three dimensional models

Speaker Bio

Alahna Moore is currently a graduate student in the department of Urban Studies at the University of New Orleans. She is certified in ArcGIS through ESRI, and remote sensing for land management through NASA ARSET. Alahna has ample experience using GIS to conduct spatial analysis using satellite imagery through her work with NASA DEVELOP, and has spent the past year generating terrain data for land surveyors using unmanned aerial vehicles and RTK GPS systems. In academia, her work has focused upon incorporating GIS, UAVs, remote sensing and photogrammetry to aid in archaeological excavations and digital modeling of historic structures. Alahna’s primary research goal is to expedite the processes of documenting and monitoring coastal landscapes that are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
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