Hi-tech heritage mapping project gets under way

2010-08-13 00:00

CAMERAS and laser scanners were busy at the Amafa building in Langalibalele Street early yesterday morning as members of the Heritage Mapping Unit began work for the first time, visually documenting the structure for a digital archive of KwaZulu-Natal’s historic buildings.

The archive will be made available on the world-wide web. The three-year project is being carried out by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s surveying and mapping (geomatics) programme in conjunction with Amafa, the provincial heritage body, which will be the custodians of the completed archive.

“The archive can be used for a variety of purposes such as conservation, heritage, research and history,” says project manager Angus Forbes, of the geomatics programme.

“A researcher can use the web to view a building or site in detail without having to travel to the actual location.”

The project will provide accurate visual records of all listed buildings in KZN which, for example, can be used if reconstruction work is required following damage by flood or fire.

The high-tech equipment used by the unit produces 3D images of each digitally mapped site which are accurate to the last millimetre. Digital imagery of each site is taken using a “GigaPan” unit that can take thousands of high-resolution digital photographs and then stitch them together into a single image. This imagery is overlaid on to the 3D laser-scanned model and accurate measurements can be extracted from the model.

The visual material will be processed by Michelle Dye, a geographical information systems analyst with the African Conservation Trust.

The unit’s field team is made up of land surveying students from UKZN and the Mangosuthu University of Technology. Unit.

The project manager, Carl Grossman, has appealed to the public, especially motorists, to keep an eye out for them.

“The team will be wearing reflective jackets and the Heritage Mapping Unit vehicle is clearly identifiable.”

The project is funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. The geomatics programme (land surveying)team at UKZN is working with the province’s heritage body, Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali.

For more information, visit http://geomatics.ukzn.ac.za/ and www.projectafrica.com.

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