Non-profit organization CyArk and its partners are on an ambitious mission against time to digitally preserve 500 cultural heritage sites around the world before they are destroyed by natural disasters, human aggression, climate change, urban sprawl, and other threats. The "CyArk 500 Challenge" officially launched on Oct. 21 at the Tower of London and will continue for the next five years to create a fully detailed digital archive that can be used for future educational and research purposes.
To survey the sites, CyArk uses a portable and precise 3D laser-scanning system invented by the organization's founder, Ben Kacyra, who launched the 500 Challenge. Ideally, the physical preservation of each of the world's cultural heritage sites would be possible. But as we all know, there isn't enough time or money and going digital has become the next best and quickest thing.
So far, CyArk has digitally preserved 40 cultural sites including the Tower of London, the statues of Easter Island, Pompeii, Mount Rushmore, and the Tower of Pisa. The 500 Selection Criteria allows members of the 500 heritage community to submit letters of interest for a site that should be considered for inclusion in the challenge.
One can only wonder when this type of technology will become common in museums, research labs, other institutions, and even in different fields. On the other hand, the CyArk challenge also brings attention to how much investment and effort is currently being put into physical preservation of these sites.
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All images courtesy of CyArk.