The Preservation Science and Technology Unit (PSTU) at the University of California, Riverside was awarded a grant by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (PTT Grant #MT-424-5-NC–021) to install and test HIPROTECT, a prototype archaeological sitemonitoring system designed for a desert environment. A site at Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR) with both historic and prehistoric components was chosen for the test. In addition to testing HIPROTECT in the extremes of a desert environment, there were several other goals for the project.

Reduction in size of the components (i.e., the energy package [solar panels and storage batteries], computer-processor, transmitters and receivers, sensor packages,) because of problems of portability and visibility.
The system needed to be reconfigured into modules so that selected components could be used in design as needed and combined for site-specific needs.
Cellular telephone communication system needed up-grade because of the nonreliable nature of commercial cellular telephone systems.

The PSTU engineers for the HIPROTECT project were selected on the basis of previous experience with monitoring systems, willingness to work with a very limited budget, and the ability to design technology for innovative approaches to site-protection problems.

The PSTU archaeologists and engineers designed a system for the protection of the entrances to Keys Desert Queen Ranch, a National Register of Historic Properties site at JOTR. Because of the limited budget available for the JOTR test of HIPROTECT, a minimal system was designed that incorporated all the basic components except for video camera. In addition, a voluntary local support organization for JOTR agreed to accept responsibility for the monthly charges for the cellular telephone, incorporated into the HIPROTECT system.

The original plans called for the project to be completed during a single calendar year. During the course of the project, it was necessary to request several time extensions:

(1) an extension was first granted from September 30, 1996 to December 31, 1996; a second no-cost extension was granted to extend the project deadline to March 31, 1997 (see Attachments 1, 2).

In preparation for installation of the HIPROTECT system designed specifically for a location at Keys Desert Queen Ranch, Dr. Joan Schneider of the PSTU and the project engineers visited the ranch, decided on the optimal placement of the system so as to afford the best sensor coverage to prevent intrusions, mapped the location to scale, made plans for camouflage of the HIPROTECT unit, and tested cellular telephone communication from that location.