Cultural Heritage Exposed

At Trinity College - my Alma Mater - computer science students and their professors have developed the Portable Open Search and Identification Tool (POSIT) Project.

About the POSIT Project
The POSIT is a development project of the The Humanitarian FOSS Project, an NSF-funded effort to get undergraduates engaged in building free and open source software that benefits humanity. It began during Spring 2008 as an undergraduate research internship with Prasanna Gautam (Trinity, '11), using the Google Android platform with emulator software. A first prototype was designed and built during the 2008 Summer HFOSS Institute. Work on actual Android phones begain in Spring 2009 thanks to a generous contribution of some G1 developer phones from Google's Leslie Hawthorn. Prototypes were demoed at the May 2009 ISCRAM Conference in Gothenborg, Sweden and the May 2010 ISCRAM Conference in Seattle, WA. During the 2010 HFOSS Summer Institute at Trinity College POSIT version 0.6 was released on the Android Market.
How It Works
An Android-based smartphone is used to take an image of a "Find," which can be an object or site, and the application automatically records its geographical coordinates, time, and date. It also includes boxes for a user to input a "Find's" name and description. This information can then be synced to the POSIT Sandbox, which is a server that hosts each user's project (video demo here).

Cultural Heritage Exposed
For my project, Cultural Heritage Exposed, I use the POSIT application to document cultural heritage "Finds" that are at risk, or exposed, to various agents of deterioration ( Because POSIT projects can be shared with multiple users, it enables other visitors to the Cultural Heritage Exposed project's page to add new "Finds," and to determine if a previously registered "Find" was damaged, stolen, or destroyed since it was last documented.

Recently, I visited Trinity College, and so I thought it would be appropriate if I demoed my Cultural Heritage Exposed project with a "Find" located on the campus's quadrangle. Below is a snapshot of the information registered related to my "Find." It is a cannon from Admiral Farragut's flagship the USS Hartford, and I have used the description box to write a few comments on its condition.

There are some limitations, such as my phone's GPS was turned off at the time so the coordinates are slightly off (to see its location on a map and to view a larger image the user would need to click on the "Find's" title). Unfortunately, the "Name" and "Description" boxes can only support a handful of characters (32 and 64, respectively), therefore, the user must use abbreviations and shorthand. Nevertheless, this application is very useful and can be used by anyone in the field, who is interested in monitoring cultural heritage at risk. I invite everyone, who has an Android smartphone (an application to support other platforms is currently in development), to share in my Cultural Heritage Exposed project. First, download the application on the Android marketplace (search "POSIT"). Then, register an account here. Finally, email me at mark @ with your POSIT-registered email address for access to the Cultural Heritage Exposed project and to begin documenting/monitoring cultural heritage at risk!