Understanding our Heritage: The Critical Importance of Mapping our Cultural Resources

 Almost fifteen years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, integrating spatial technologies in disaster response has become a necessity.  Based on the strategies developed and undertaken in Louisiana, we now have better, faster, more comprehensive spatial data and capabilities.  Although causing a great deal of damage, Katrina also provided an important learning environment for identifying challenges and generating solutions in responding to extensive cultural resources issues in a disaster.  Involving spatial technologies in strategies for a large-scale compliance with historic preservation laws proved invaluable in identifying potential cultural resources, in evaluating those resources for their eligibility to the National Register, and in providing important treatment measures during long term recovery efforts.  Creating these digital cultural resource inventories, as well as developing data standards and processes to share that data quickly following a disaster are all critical elements of protecting our heritage and in improving preparedness for future emergencies.  Inevitably we will lose important cultural resources to natural and manmade disasters, and without a full understanding of where these resources are now, we lose the ability to prepare, steward and document them for benefit of everyone.  As our technological tools improve and expand, we have many more options to ensure preservation of our resources in many forms.


This webinar will cover:

· How do we apply spatial technologies (document, integrate, visualize, share data; compliance with historic preservation laws; inventory creation; mitigation of adverse effects)?

· Why are spatial data standards important?  What platforms for data collection/creation should be used to comply with federal, state and local standards? What role do data sharing agreements play?

· How can volunteers and private non-profits work with jurisdictions and emergency managers to provide critical information before, during and after a disaster?

· How can emerging and changing technologies become tools for disaster response and recovery?


Case Study: Through a one-year LYRASIS Catalyst Grant, the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library is creating a publicly editable directory of Georgia’s Natural, Cultural and Historical Organizations (NCHs), allowing for quick retrieval of coordinate location and contact information for disaster response. Directory information is being compiled, updated, and uploaded to Wikidata, the linked open data database from the Wikimedia Foundation. Directory information will then be delivered via a website, allowing emergency responders to quickly search for NCHs in disaster areas.

Deidre McCarthy

Chief, Cultural Resource GIS Facility (CRGIS), National Park Service

Deidre McCarthy holds a B.A. from Mary Washington College in Historic Preservation and an M.A from the University of Delaware in Urban Affairs and Public Policy, with a specialization in Historic Preservation.  She is Chief of the Cultural Resources GIS Facility (CRGIS) of the National Park Service (NPS), in Washington, D.C., the only office within the NPS dedicated to applying GIS to cultural resource management and planning. There, she focuses primarily on helping State/Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and National Park units to integrate both GIS and GPS into their traditional preservation activities. At CRGIS for over twenty years, she has helped preservationists identify applications for these technologies in daily activities through a variety of projects across the country and within National Park units, as well as providing GIS/GPS training and other guidance. As part of these efforts, she led a team to create NPS cultural resource spatial data transfer standards to help facilitate data exchange, enhancing cultural resource management and serving as a foundation for an NPS cultural resource enterprise data set.  These standards and this data set will allow the NPS to respond to natural and man-made disasters more quickly and efficiently.  Currently, she is working to develop similar Federal standards for cultural resource spatial data.  

Cliff Landis

Digital Initiatives Librarian, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

Cliff Landis is Digital Initiatives Librarian at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library. His research interests include linked open data, archival technologies, digitization, metadata, and the coevolution of humanity and technology.

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Understanding our Heritage: The Critical Importance of Mapping our Cultural Resources Webinar
02/19/2020 at 2:00 PM (EST)   |  60 minutes
02/19/2020 at 2:00 PM (EST)   |  60 minutes Almost fifteen years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, integrating spatial technologies in disaster response has become a necessity. Based on the strategies developed and undertaken in Louisiana, we now have better, faster, more comprehensive spatial data and capabilities. Although causing a great deal of damage, Katrina also provided an important learning environment for identifying challenges and generating solutions in responding to extensive cultural resources issues in a disaster. Involving spatial technologies in strategies for a large-scale compliance with historic preservation laws proved invaluable in identifying potential cultural resources, in evaluating those resources for their eligibility to the National Register, and in providing important treatment measures during long term recovery efforts. Creating these digital cultural resource inventories, as well as developing data standards and processes to share that data quickly following a disaster are all critical elements of protecting our heritage and in improving preparedness for future emergencies. Inevitably we will lose important cultural resources to natural and manmade disasters, and without a full understanding of where these resources are now, we lose the ability to prepare, steward and document them for benefit of everyone. As our technological tools improve and expand, we have many more options to ensure preservation of our resources in many forms.