HERE and CyArk partner to save historic areas – with lasers

Ian Delaney
London 51° 30' 23.112" N, -0° 7' 37.956" E

History is slipping through our fingers. All the time, precious world heritage sites disappear. Sometimes through natural disasters – floods and earthquakes. Through man-made actions – like arson, war and terrorism – or maybe over-eager developers. Or just the slow erosion that happens when there’s no funds or organisations to look after sites.

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So what’s to be done?

CyArk, a non-profit foundation created in 2003, has focused on the digital preservation of world heritage sites, creating elaborate 3D models of locations around the world.

elizabethElizabeth Lee, VP of CyArk, told us that use of 3D models was vital.

“The 3D models can be used to create an accurate record of our cultural heritage. We work with local groups on nearly all of our projects, so those groups are able to use the models in ongoing restoration or conservation work.”

“The use of precision LiDAR equipment gives so much more information than photographs. This is engineering-grade data that can be drawn into CAD programs to understand everything about the site concerned.”

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The models can also be studied by historians or simply stored carefully to ensure that accurate records of our past are preserved for posterity.

Now HERE is to assist with this programme, beginning with the historic districts of New Orleans and Philadelphia.

“This allows us to increase in scope and scale, beyond individual landmarks to whole districts that are prized for their historical and architectural value,” says Elizabeth.

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Philadelphia

Our HERE True mapping vehicles are, of course, purpose-built for creating highly detailed, accurate models of roads and cities using LiDAR.

As we’ve discussed before, these vehicles are capable of capturing 700,000 3D data points a second, creating 3D models of city environments in the same amount of time it takes to walk through them. In fact, the vehicles from HERE capture the detail required to a higher resolution than other companies’ mapping cars (because we’re creating higher definition maps), making them ideal for this project.

By donating that data to CyArk – freezing the sites as they were at a specific point in time –  we’re extending that information’s use beyond our normal business of maps and navigation, and into preservation, education and historical research.

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New Orleans

“Historic cities and artifacts are more at risk now than ever before. If they are lost, we will never get them back,” says John Ristevski, head of reality capture for HERE.

“Using the most advanced technology on the market today to capture the best, most accurate version of reality is what we do at HERE. We are proud to help CyArk take their mission to the next level,” he adds.

If you’re interested in what CyArk does, take a look at their online gallery of projects.

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