Pakistan floods: innovations and guidance for the response.

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Building on advances in consumer UAVs, photogrammetry and augmented reality to re-imagine how we can empower communities that are stewards of heritage sites around the world facing conflict, encroachment or natural hazards such as flooding.



Cultural heritage is increasingly threatened by conflict and environmental factors.
How communities connect with their heritage can affect its preservation as well as jobs and revenue where there has been tourism in the past or scope for tourism in the future.
Heritage stewardship can be an instrument to promote stabilisation and in building communities that are more resilient. Equally heritage and history can prove divisive, hence the importance of understanding how to address heritage stewardship in a conflict-sensitive way.
With resources always scarce, this project also looks at the smart use of consumer technology to empower local champions.


The convergence of five factors have made this possible:

  • Consumer electronics
    1. Transforming cost and functionality
    2. Accessibility and ease of use
  • Image sensors
    1. High fidelity data
    2. Hyperspectral – seeing the invisible
  • Connectivity
    1. Saas Model
    2. Data sharing
    3. Remote expert mentoring
  • Smart phone literacy
    1. Access
    2. Local processing power
  • 3 D rendering and visualisation
    1. Value add
    2. Engagement and understanding
    3. From virtual to augmented reality

Compact ‘consumer’ UAVs have been used in the humanitarian response to map. We will be taking this idea further to enable communities to model and monitor key buildings and sites; and to experience and share the data in a richer, more intuitive way.
This could have valuable spin offs for the community, beyond just heritage stewardship.


A detailed plan for a pilot project that would demonstrate:

  • local ownership
  • the potential to be replicated and
  • a business model that might sustain this approach.

In addition it will provide a practical demonstration of community based heritage stewardship in an area affected by conflict and environmental challenges.
Why is this important?
Heritage is not only a visual witness of human civilisation it is also an integral part of a society´s collective memory and being. By protecting heritage and safeguarding it for future generations we are not only saving history we are also saving lives by reminding individuals of the past of their communities and the landscapes they inhabit. Protecting such sites in times of conflict requires an approach that is both conflict-sensitive as well as coherent with the humanitarian response. Designed in an appropriate way such a response could complement and enhance the traditional humanitarian response.

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