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Development and use of a 4D Geographic Information System to support the conservation of the Calakmul site (Mexico)

Onderzoeksproject UN/4 (Onderzoeksactie UN)


Contract BL/12/026 :

Duur van het contract :

1/12/2007-31/5/2010

Partners :

  • Geographic Information management NV 
  • Université de Liège 
  • Universiteit Gent 
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 

Beschrijving :

Context and objectives

The R&D cooperation agreement signed in 2002 between BELSPO and the WH-Center aims to mobilize the Belgian scientific expertise to support the State Parties in the development of their capacity with respect to World Heritage site management and more specifically in the use of innovative technology such as remote sensing, ICT, 3D modeling, etc for the conservation of natural and cultural sites, while meanwhile enhancing Belgian research excellence and expertise in these fields. The Calakmul 4D GIS project was funded by BELSPO thanks to the budget available in the second implementation phase (2006) of this agreement.
A workshop entitled “International Workshop on the Use of Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage” was organized in 2005 in Campeche (Mexico). On this occasion, the first project idea was discussed between BELSPO, UNESCO and INAH and the Calakmul site was selected because of its “mixed” nature (both cultural and natural).
This forms the general context in which the Calakmul 4D GIS project has been funded.

The main objective of the demonstrative project was to develop and implement an Information Management System dedicated to World Heritage site managers. This system was intended to support the daily business of managers of natural and cultural heritage places by allowing them to create, record, share, visualise and analyse information relative to site conditions, conservation, restoration, management, monitoring and planning actions. Consequently, this system had to be developed according to the requirements of UNESCO and the local partners. Calakmul 4D GIS integrated a research component focussing here on the spatio-temporal analyses of archaeological data. Moreover, besides the development and the transfer of technology, it was important to build capacity at local level and to train the Mexican partners in order for them to become self-sufficient in the use of the delivered tools.
In addition to this main goal, the Calakmul 4D GIS project also aimed at raising awareness for conservation of heritage and at promoting UNESCO sites values.

Methodology

A Consortium of Belgian partners has been formed and worked in close collaboration with UNESCO representative Mr Mario Hernandez and with the Mexican institutions in charge of the management of the natural and cultural heritage respectively CONANP (National Commission of Protected Natural Areas) and INAH ( National Institute of Anthropology and History).
A multidisciplinary approach was followed and the project was thus carried out by complementary research teams. The work was distributed according to the specific knowledge and expertise of the partners:

• Scientists from the Department of Geography of the Ghent University did research on spatio-temporal representation and analysis of archaeological data. In addition to this main task, they also contributed to the project by carrying out topographical measurements, generating 3D content and elaborating posters.
• Scientists from the European Centre of Archaeometry of the University of Liège were responsible for archaeological data collection and construction of the archaeological database, part of the Calakmul 4DGIS. They also offered their expertise in the management of archaeological data with respect to its integration in the system.
• Scientists from the engineering faculty of the Catholic University of Leuven (VISICS team) further developed the Arc3D web service allowing to create three-dimensional models based on sequences of standard digital photos. They also generated 3D content and participated to the R,T, I capacity building.
• GIM was in charge of the project coordination and was responsible for designing and developing the Calakmul 4DGIS “Information Management System”, the analysis of satellite imagery (natural and archaeological aspects) and production of maps for the nature reserve. GIM experts ensured interaction with local users in Calakmul region and with the central INAH office in Mexico city , BELSPO and UNESCO and the 'capacity building' (education and training) pillar of the project.


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