World Heritage Sites To Be Digitally Preserved
October 23, 2013

CyArk Looks To Digitally Preserve World Heritage Sites

[ Watch the Video: Preserving World Heritage Sites In 3D ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Using the cloud to back up documents, photos and other important files is one thing, but a new nonprofit group is taking things to the next level by digitally preserving the world’s best-known monuments and historic landmarks.

The organization, which is known as CyArk, has already created virtual back-up versions of over 100 ancient structures, ruins and landscapes, according to the Associated Press (AP). In the near future, husband-and-wife team Ben and Barbara Kacyra hope to digitize 400 additional sites in order to protect them from “war, wear, and the impact of climate change.”

According to Daily Mail reporter Sarah Griffiths, CyArk scientists are using cutting edge 3D scanning technology to virtually document the monuments and heritage sites. The sites are selected by an international committee, and those digitized to date include Babylon, the Titanic, and the Tower of London.

The group’s goal is to have a 3D digital library of important cultural sites within the next five years, Griffiths said. In order to make that happen, the Oakland, California-based firm is using laser-scanning and other reality-capture technologies to craft virtual models of the locations that are accurate to within two-to-six millimeters. They then intend to use that data to develop tools which will aid conservators in the management and preservation of the location.

“Our mission is to create a 3D-digital library of the world’s most important heritage sites,” Ben Kacyra said in a statement. “While there isn’t enough time or money to save all these sites physically, we have the technology to digitally preserve them. By doing so, we will ensure that these treasures are available for appreciation and study for years to come. It’s not an option; it’s our responsibility.”

The Kacyras were inspired to create their digital heritage site archive following the 2001 destruction of the two Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by terrorists, according to Metro’s Ross McGuinness. No detailed documentation of those landmarks, which were carved into the face of a sandstone cliff in the sixth century, existed, and Ben Kacyras said that he did not want other cultural landmarks to suffer similar fates.

Ben Kacyra, who earned a master’s degree in engineering and originally developed the CyArk 3D technology for commercial construction purposes, told USA Today reporter Stephanie Haven, “Eyes light up when they [people] see the reconstructions. The structures and monuments are wonderful props to tell the stories of history. Unless we capture and communicate with our young generation, the way they're used to, we're going to lose their interest in heritage. These new tools have changed the way they think.”

“Each site digitization contains 10,000 gigabytes, which is the equivalent of 200 trucks of paper. It's all stored 210 feet below ground in Iron Mountain's National Data Center facility in western Pennsylvania, guarded by a three-ton gate,” Haven added. “All CyArk data are available for free on their website. From the original Titanic dive footage to 3D images of The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the multimedia content enables anyone to virtually visit the world's most famous sites.”