CyArk Launches a Challenge to Map 500 Heritage Sites
Beloved and culturally significant sites like the Great Wall of China, The Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu need protection, or the world stands to lose them to natural disasters, war, terrorism and other threats.
That was the alarm sounded today at a press conference hosted by CyArk, a non-profit organization that uses laser scanners to create accurate digital copies of these sites for preservation and educational purposes. Speaking to a crowd of more than 200 at the Tower of London, CyArk launched an ambitious initiative to digitally preserve 500 heritage sites within the next five years and unveiled a new fund to help finance the effort.
CyArk urged the assembly, which included foreign ambassadors, government officials, cultural representatives, corporate executives and others from 35 countries, to support the CyArk 500 Challenge through the CyArk 500 Fund.
Governments and individuals can nominate sites for preservation and donate money to support the cause via the organization’s website. Sites will then be reviewed for selection and funding consideration by an international advisory council of heritage experts assembled by CyArk.
“Our mission is to create a 3D-digital library of the world’s most important heritage sites,” said Ben Kacyra, co-founder of CyArk along with his wife Barbara. “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. Otherwise, we will lose our shared history and an important piece of our cultural identity.”
CyArk utilizes 3D-laser scanning and other reality-capture technologies to create digital models of the sites accurate to within 2-6mm. From that data, CyArk develops tools to aid conservators in the management and preservation of the location. Additionally, the organization produces educational materials, virtual tourism opportunities, as well as digital renderings that are available to the public at www.cyark.org.
Protecting the data
Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., with European operations in Edinburgh, Scotland, CyArk captures billions of data points with each heritage project. That can mean as much as 10 terabytes of information per project. To protect this data, CyArk relies on Iron Mountain, the information storage and management company that became a charitable partner in 2012. Iron Mountain stores data of each heritage site in an underground storage bunker in western Pennsylvania. The high-security facility is guarded 24/7 and home to other priceless cultural collections, such as timeless movies like E.T. and Jaws from Universal Studios and iconic recordings from Capitol/Universal Music musicians like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Harold Ebbighausen, president of Iron Mountain, North America, spoke of the company’s work with CyArk: “This effort allows us to apply the skills and expertise we’ve acquired over the last 60 years, helping organizations protect and manage valuable information, to a cause we care deeply about. We’re proud to play a role in preserving and facilitating access to these important heritage sites.”
CyArk recognized a number of sites within its archive as examples of the work that will be executed during the 500. The 40 sites recognized included Pompeii, Babylon, Mt. Rushmore, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Titanic, the Sydney Opera House and most recently, the Tower of London. CyArk recognized these projects today at a special ceremony.
Future projects comprising the CyArk 500 will be evaluated for inclusion by the CyArk Advisory Council, chaired by Gustavo Araoz, president of the International Council of Monuments and Sites.
“The first task of the Advisory Council was to develop criteria for selecting the 500,” said council chair Araoz. “While the risk factor will be a chief criterion in selecting sites, we want to use the technology beyond mere documentation to promote capacity building in all regions, and to assist management in periodic monitoring, interpretation, public awareness, and promotion of visitation.”
Founded in 2003, CyArk, a non-profit charity with offices in Oakland, California and Edinburgh, Scotland is dedicated to protecting the world’s heritage through the use of new technologies. CyArk has digitally preserved over 100 cultural heritage sites worldwide with the data securely archived for the future. CyArk uses the data today to enhance heritage site conservation, to support innovative, curriculum-based learning, and generates project portals to provide free public access to these incredible sites through the web. (www.cyark.org).
A full list of the projects can be found here: archive.cyark.org/project-list
About Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM) is a leading provider of storage and information management solutions. The company’s real estate network of over 64 million square feet across more than 1,000 facilities in 36 countries allows it to serve customers around the world. And its solutions for records management, data backup and recovery, document management and secure shredding help organizations to lower storage costs, comply with regulations, recover from disaster, and better use their information for business advantage. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain stores and protects billions of information assets, including business documents, backup tapes, electronic files and medical data. Visit www.ironmountain.com/ for more information.