NCPTT WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT
In FY2012, NCPTT received over 1.5 million visits by over 290,000 unique visitors who viewed 9.1 million pages. This is an increase of 190 percent in page views and a 230 percent rise in unique visitors. Visitors downloaded over 98,000 PDF publications. On YouTube alone 143,000 minutes (more than ninety-nine continuous days) of NCPTT videos have been watched by 28,000 people. The National Center continues to grow its audience on the web and via social media.
To improve site speed and accommodate both increasing traffic and additional web projects, Information Technology (IT) staff changed the web server’s operating system from Windows Server to Linux and upgraded from 16GB to 48GB of RAM in May. The number of visitors increased by over fifty percent after these upgrades. NCPTT has reclassified website content along thematic lines and created subject pages to make it easier for visitors to find information and to help staff organize subject matter on a given topic.
A major thrust of NCPTT’s web program in FY2012 was development of websites for the NPS Facility Maintenance and Cultural Resources Career Academies. These websites offer resources for career development and training and will also serve as an online community where employees can share expertise with each other and develop mentoring relationships. NCPTT is using WordPress, BuddyPress, and CUNY Commons open source software to develop these projects with in-house staff at a fraction of the cost of outside contractors and commercial software.
In FY2012, the National Center offered an assortment of 200 publications, videos, software and other preservation technology products to the public free of charge. The year was a landmark for NCPTT’s product distribution. Requests for hard-copy products fell sharply while downloads of electronic copies rose by approximately forty-seven percent. Most popular among these were a new publication, “Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning Government Issued Headstones,” and the perennial favorite, “Application and Preparation of Limewash,” an instructional video released in 2008.
By developing in-house expertise, upgrading equipment, and refining its video production process, the National Center produced a record forty-five videos in FY2012, most of which were presentations from the Divine Disorder and 3D Digital Documentation conferences.
NCPTT staff record video in high definition with the aid of a specialized Tricaster 450 studio computer. This equipment allows the operator to overlay titles and other graphics, use green screens and virtual sets, import from up to three live cameras, and pull presentations directly from a computer on the same network. IT staff members then export videos to MP4 format for upload and distribution through YouTube and create an audio file which is passed to a transcriptionist.
Section 508 of the American’s With Disabilities Act requires government-issued video to be closed captioned for the hearing impaired. Until recently, creating a closed captioning file was a very time consuming bottleneck in the video production process. But in 2012, YouTube added auto-captioning from a text transcript, eliminating the bottleneck. Now Section 508 compliant video with closed captioning can be released as soon as it has been transcribed, dramatically increasing productivity. Future plans call for producing MP4 videos with embedded closed captioning and increasing distribution by offering video content through iTunes University in addition to the NCPTT website.
In FY2012, the National Center published ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage, a mobile app developed by NCPTT’s Sean Clifford and modeled after Heritage Preservation’s Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel.
The first iPhone version of ERS was released in April of 2012 and has been downloaded over 1,700 times. Development has not ended there and, in order to reach the widest possible audience, staff are working to make NCPTT’s apps available across multiple platforms and languages. ERS is being updated to support use with iPads and the newly released four-inch iPhone screens. Brian King of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve has also developed a Blackberry version of the app that will be released upon approval by Heritage Preservation.
In FY2012, NSU student Jorge Rodriguez joined NCPTT as an intern to develop Android applications and provide Spanish translations of apps and videos. As a result of his work, an Android version of ERS has just been released in both English and Spanish on the Google Play Android app store and supports use with both phone and tablets.
NCPTT has two additional mobile apps under development:
Risk is designed to help users assess the severity, probability, and exposure to risks in the workplace and was developed as a companion to NPS operational risk management training. It is currently available in beta on both iOS and Android.
Sites adapts an Archeological Site Inspection Form into an app designed for tablet devices. This is in the live mockup phase and is a collaborative project between NCPTT and the NPS Southeast Archeological Center.
IN-OFFICE COMPUTER SYSTEMS
During FY2012 the IT staff replaced all switches within NCPTT’s headquarters at Lee H. Nelson Hall with new Cisco gigabit switches. This hardware upgrade will significantly increase data throughput and improve the capabilities of staff to execute the National Center’s mission.
A change in data backup systems was also made in FY2012. NCPTT now uses a disk-to-disk backup system for all mission critical data. The obsolete tape backup system has been retired. Weekly backups are stored offsite at a location approximately forty-five miles from the National Center in a secure fireproof safe. These disks would be used in the event of a catastrophic event to restore computing systems at NCPTT. This is in adherence to the National Center’s continuation of operations plan.
NCPTT continues its partnership with the Louisiana School for Math, Science & the Arts, donating surplus computers to the school for educational purposes. This saves NCPTT money by avoiding disposal costs for outdated equipment.