Global Heritage Fund recently announced the launch of Global Heritage Network, an interactive web application designed to increase global awareness of threats facing heritage in developing countries. The web app, now in its beta version, was created using Google Earth and high-resolution satellite imagery donated by Digital Globe. In addition to providing an early warning and threats monitoring system for global heritage, GHF plans for the app to serve as a universally accessible library and knowledge base for innovative solutions in preservation and community development.
Major archaeological and heritage sites in developing countries are being damaged and destroyed due to urban encroachment, looting, unplanned development, neglect, insufficient management, war and conflict. Sites in the Global Heritage Network database are ranked on a color-coded scale corresponding to the threats faced. Behind the Google Earth map interface, users can navigate a cornucopia of resources including photos, videos, news articles, and a library of case studies, management plans, reports, and other related texts. A Facebook-like virtual community brings together experts, academics, and concerned citizens to discuss and collaboratively seek solutions to issues confronting cultural heritage sites.
All of these features combine to form a robust and comprehensive resource. Perhaps most exciting of all is the notion of leveraging the collective experience of the global heritage community to monitor and preserve sites in countries that may lack financial resources and skilled personnel. To this end, Global Heritage Network encourages users to contribute their stories, photos, videos, and technical content and–for those with relevant expertise–to volunteer as a “site coordinator” or “site monitor” to track, collect, and evaluate information pertaining to specific sites.
Global Heritage Network currently features over 500 major archaeological and heritage sites focused in developing countries and hosts a growing virtual community of over 140 members. For more information, visit http://globalheritagefund.org/index.php/gh_network/