National Park Service doles out preservation tech grants

Information on the Hearst Castle, pictured here, is available in a California database of historical buildings. Officials want to use federal grant money to make it easier to add to that database. (Photo courtesy of California State Parks 2015)

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The National Park Service announced this week it would distribute nearly half a million dollars to projects that use new technologies to preserve cultural resources.

One of the recipients was the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which is slated to receive $40,000 to develop software that collects data on historical buildings and archeological sites. Currently the state uses a paper-based system to gather information about historical buildings, and workers must load that information into a database, Dennis Weber, a spokesman for the California State Parks, said in an email.

The State Historic Preservation Officer “is awash in paper under the present outdated system. Getting digitized data will streamline the review process,” he said.

Weber said the biggest users of the software would be private consultants who prepare the environmental documents when they build new roads or cell towers. He added that the software would be accessible on laptops and tablets, and, once developed, it would be open sourced.

In another project, researchers out of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry will receive $39,000 to adapt technology currently used in anti-wildlife-poaching efforts to protect archeological resources. Claire Dunn, a spokeswoman for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said in an email that vandalism and looting are significant threats to archeological resources at national parks.

“The funding was requested to support development of new sensors, adapting technology for mobile devices, in-person training, and piloting devices at Death Valley National Park and Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site,” she said. “They expect to develop systems that will enhance the efficiency of National Park Service monitoring efforts.”

The National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training has given $9.2 million to science and tech projects since 1994, according to a release. Other winners of the grant are:

State Applicant Project Title Amount
Arizona National Park Service, Southern Arizona Office (Vanishing Treasures), Phoenix A Quantitative Assessment of Architectural Material Losses using Terrestrial Laser Scanning $16,500
Florida National Park Service, Southeast Archeological Center, Tallahassee Revisiting Acryloid B-72/Paraloid B-72 and Barrier Numbering: Solutions for Archaeological Museum Collections $40,000
Idaho Idaho State University, Pocatello Digital 3-D Preservation and Documentation for Historic Cultural Landscape and Museum Collections, Grand Teton National Park $39,000
Indiana Purdue University, West Lafayette Enhancing Historic Landscape Visualization $40,000
North Dakota North Dakota State University, Fargo Multifunctional High Performance “Green” Nanocomposite Coating for Metals $38,000
New Mexico Mesilla Valley Preservation Inc., Mesilla Field Kit and Methodology for Detecting, Measuring, and Remediating Salt Attack (Salt Weathering) in Adobe and Earthen Structures $25,000
New York Cornell University, Ithaca Rapid-Deployment Geophysical Reconnaissance Team for the Assessment of Threatened Cultural Resources in the American Arctic – Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve, Bering Land Bridge Natural Preserve, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Barrow at the Birnirk National Historic Landmark $39,500
Oregon University of Oregon, Eugene A Preliminary Manual of Policy and Management Responses to Climate Change Impacts on Cultural Landscapes, Phase 2 $39,000
Pennsylvania The Pennsylvania State University, University Park Probabilistic Modeling of Energy Use and Air Quality in Historic Buildings $40,000
Texas University of Texas, Austin Using Eulerian Video Magnification to Study the Effect of Fluctuations in Relative Humidity on Cultural Heritage Materials $30,500

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Department of the Interior, Departments, Government IT News, Innovation
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