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Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
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DESCRIPTION OF THE INNOVATION

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.

 

WHAT HUMANITARIAN NEED IS BEING ADDRESSED?

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.

WHAT IS THE INNOVATIVE SOLUTION AND HOW WILL IT IMPROVE EXISTING HUMANITARIAN PRACTICE?

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.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

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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Latest Updates

Heritage stewardship – its place in the humanitarian landscape

13 Dec 2016

The dilemma about humanitarian priorities is often posed in a stark manner: surely humanitarians’ number one priority is saving lives? Don’t lives matter more than buildings?

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2016Dec

Why choose Mali as the site to test the concept?

05 Jan 2017

The community based approach to the mapping, modelling and monitoring of endangered heritage sites needs to be grounded in the real issues faced by remote or isolated communities, if they wish to preserve their history, culture and local skills.

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2017Jan

Innovators in the Protection of Endangered Heritage

31 Jan 2017

Heritage sites across the Middle East have long suffered from various forms of vandalism, neglect, urban encroachment, and natural deterioration. But since the Arab Spring, with authoritarian regimes replaced by weak governments or failed states and with the rise of ISIS and its affiliates, these sites face the unprecedented threat of total destruction.

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Drones in humanitarian action – at a tipping point?

31 Jan 2017

In December 2016, a consortium led by the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) published a major review that provides detailed insight into the use of drones or airbourne systems in humanitarian crises.

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The importance of communities in protecting heritage in conflict zones

21 Feb 2017

What role can the community play in protecting cultural heritage? This was a recurring theme, if an unspoken question, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) round-table meeting on ‘Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict Zones: Is a New Framework for Action Needed?’, held at the beginning of December 2016 at the British Academy.

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Feb

How UAV-based surveys can transform topographical analysis and risk assessment

1 Mar 2017

Could the benefits of drone usage in other sectors also apply to applications in remote locations without the backup of a national support network?

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Mar

From 2D to 3D: Community-based use of photogrammetry

1 Mar 2017

Until recently mapping the ground in 3D would have required a stereoscopic camera with the depth created by the differential depth of field between the two lenses.

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Testing UAV based systems in the field– what we learnt

9 Mar 2017

We are at the very beginning of a new era that brings together aviation, robotics and cloud based applications, creating new challenges and opportunities.

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Ten reflections on Elon Musk that guided our HIF project

15 Mar 2017

The widespread calls for greater innovation in the humanitarian sector and smarter ways of working demonstrates not just a system stretched to breaking point by crises around the world and aggravated by ever greater threats such as pandemics.

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The Global Development Community calls for better access to imagery and data

29 Mar 2017

On February 21st 2017, a new initiative was launched in response to calls by the Global Development Community ‘for better access to imagery and data, which can fuel greater analysis and insight into the various challenges facing societies across the globe’.

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Citizen-based approach to safeguard historical sites - lessons from conservation

3 Apr 2017

Conservation is a journey not a destination, but each Spri 7 Whitley Award winners share their journeys with their peers and a wider audience at the Royal Geographical Society.

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Apr

Immersive technology for public outreach and advocacy

6 Apr 2017

It’s a matter of being there. Immersive technologies are a powerful way of bringing us closer to people and places. That could mean virtual tourism, compelling advocacy for important causes and engaging ways to raise funds.

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A postscript to a pioneering humanitarian project

12 Sept 2017

It’s only the perspective of hindsight which provides the opportunity to document the outcomes from a successful project. This blog seeks to document some of the initial successes.

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Sept

Related Resources

Report Information Management, Communication & Technology

Final Report: Community-Based Mapping, Modelling and Monitoring of Endangered Heritage

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