How to document heritage sites under threat

Project aims to create virtual archives using 3D scanning technology

A major conference in Berlin from 19-20 October will bring together heritage advocates and technology for a major conference on how digital technology is being used to preserve the world’s heritage sites. Resilience Through Innovation has been organised by CyArk, a California-based non-profit organisation that uses digital scanning to create a free-to-access online three-dimensional archive of the heritage sites.

To date CyArk has archived data from hundreds of sites across the globe, including the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi in Uganda. Hundreds more projects are in development as part of its plan to scan 500 sites in five years. Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Ben Kacyra, the founding director of CyArk, said: “We are losing heritage sites faster than we can physically conserve them.” Kacyra attributes the loss of sites to global warming, urban encroachment and conflict.

In June, in response to attacks on heritage sites in Syria and Iraq, CyArk and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) launched Project Anqa to document at-risk sites. The initiative calls for teams to be on standby so they can be deployed to quickly “scan and can” data from heritage sites when it is safe to do so. Technology was distributed to various teams earlier this month.

• For more information on the conference, see