GIS and Cultural Resource Management
By Paul Box, 1999. (c) UNESCO
An introduction to the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in heritage management
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a set of computerised tools used to collect, archive, manage, retrieve, analyse and output geographic and other related kinds of attribute data. GIS records the geometry and location of real world features in layers of a digital map. A computerised map can be likened to an atlas of a specified geographic area, in which each page contains different types of information - for example, topographic information, land use, elevation etc. When all layers are overlaid, a geographical database is created.
By using a GIS, heritage managers can - generate permanent records of heritage sites; understand how cultural heritage relates spatially to its surrounding natural and human environment; communicate knowledge and network databases; test proposed development models and conservation strategies; facilitate monitoring and management of sites.
The purpose of this manual is to provide an accessible introduction to GIS and the users of GIS as a tool for culture resource management by site managers and culture policy makers at both the local and national levels. The manual can be used by heritage experts as well as planners and managers who need to integrate heritage protection into regional development projects. In addition to being an introduction to GIS method and theory, the manual shows in a step-by-step format, how to implement a GIS in field situations and how to make use of GIS for site management and monitoring.