Protecting Cultural Heritage is mainly aimed at avoiding that any kind of hazard could pose an excessive risk to the objects that must be preserved. There are conditions, nonetheless, that oblige to evacuate the artefacts, since the preventive measures cannot be anymore effective. So, in specific situations, museums and their staff may go through challenging times due both to natural disasters and climate change.
In the case of museums, when they are threatened for their role in protecting and valorizing precious witnesses of the past and human creativity, their intrinsic value for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding must be protected and supported.
UNESCO and ICCROM have published in English and in Arabic an handbook about the protection of Cultural Heritage objects during conflicts. Such activity is challenging and can be life threatening.
The handbook provides step-by-step guidance for evacuating cultural collections under extreme conditions. It is aimed at assisting people and institutions,which try to prevent the destruction and looting of cultural objects during a crisis situation. It can be used also to train others and to improve emergency preparedness at cultural sites. According the document, the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation (EHRF), a Cairo based non-governmental organisation, has performed the field-testing of the workflow.
The handbook deals the evacuation of cultural heritage objects, how to do it, which workflow adopt, how to assess the threat and other important aspects of preparedness and management of emergency evacuations. Obviously, the handbook cannot give instructions on the prioritisation in removing objects, since such activity is strongly related to a complex assessment depending of many different considerations but it has the merit of drawing attention to this passage of emergency procedures and providing some basic information.
The document can be downloaded from the ICCROM website or here:
On December 5th, 2017, a large brush fire in California has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings. According the media no injuries or structural damage have been reported, although the museum has been threatened and closed to the public on Wednesday 5th.
An important aspect of the fire that obliged Authorities to close the freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, is related to fire safety of art collections and museums in general in case of vegetation or forest fire. The Getty Center has been closed for one day because of wildfires burning across the 405 Freeway. According media “officials say the flames pose no immediate danger to the museum’s art”.
At 07:11 – 6 dic 2017 the Center has released the following tweet: The Getty Center is closed to the public today. The fire is northeast of the Getty Center and east of the San Diego Freeway. Air filtration systems are protecting the galleries from smoke. We continue to monitor the situation and will issue updates as we have them.
The Getty’s vice president of communications, has explained that “the safest place for the art is right here at the Getty”.
The key points fo the specific fire safety strategy adopted by the museum against vegetation fire can be summarised as follows:
the thickness of the walls and doors, designed to compartmentalize any flames;
smoke detection and sprinklers;
sophisticated air filtration system and pressurization systems (with the possibility of reverse flow);
water reservoir to supply suppression systems;
on-site helipad to fill helicopters with water;
large-diameter loop to feed hydrants of the property;
the zone around the building is kept green with fire-resistant plants;
the area surrounding the campus is kept clear of grasses.;
a canopy of oak trees has been planted in order to suppress the growth of vegetation that could feed a vegetation fire.
Smoke, hot air and toxic gases produced by a forest or vegetation fire con be led by winds inside containing vulnerable historic or cultural artefacts and damage them inside a building, the same way smoke and combustion products can do it when produced by an internal fire. Thus, the fire has highlighted the frequently forgotten need of assessing also the risk of external fire in assessing museum and Cultural Heritage safety.
The event shows how safety of museums in specific cases needs the assessment of people evacuation, of internal fire spread and vegetation fire propagation.
Protecting Cultural Heritage form disasters needs different actions, one of the more important of which is to make aware stakeholders about what to do, during emergencies, to limit damages. This consideration has been made by the the EU research project STORM, financed under the Horizon 2020 program, that, from 11th to 13th September 2017 has organized in Rome (Italy) its first course on Management in Emergency of Cultural Heritage. The course “STORM Summer School 2017” has been based on the main topic of the project: how to protect (from preparedness to recovery) cultural heritage against damages due to climate change. So, together with the lessons and the field demonstrations concerning first aid to heritage and historical building, climate change and its effects on the environment have been briefly described.
The Course, a preparatory activity to organise the 2018 STORM Summer School, has been held in Rome, in the National Fire Academy (Istituto Superiore Antincendi) with a 2 and an half days program and final examination. The aim of the course, is giving to managers and to anyone is committed in managing Cultural Heritage buildings some basic information on the main risks due to climate change that can pose a threat to Cultural Heritage buildings and artefacts. The program is based on the underlying consideration that the training and cultural basis in Europe of people charged of managing such assets is extremely different in the member states.
The speakers and the topics of the course have been:
Dr. Ivonne Anders, University of Stuttgart (GE), Climate change observed and predicted in Europe
Dr. Alcides Fuschini Bizarro, Município de Grândola (PT), Water and environment agents damages: protecting procedures in emergency
Prof. Joerg Birkmann, University of Stuttgart (GE), Climate change and new threats to cultural heritage
Dr. Eng. Silvia Boi, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica (IT), The STORM project and protection of cultural heritage: state of the art and goals
Dr. Francesca Boldrighini, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Colosseo, il Museo Nazionale Romano e l’Area Archeologica di Roma (IT), Gathering and sharing data in emergency between rescue services and cultural heritage protection bodies
Dr. Maria Concetta Capua, Nova Conservacao (PT), STORM suggested forms and their use on field
Prof. Patrikakis Charalampos, Technological Educational Institute of Piraeus (GR), Description of sensors used in STORM
Dr. Eng. Armando de Rosa, Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (IT), Quick assessment of damaged structures
Dr. Paolo Dolci, Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (IT), Steading of a earthquake-damaged masonry arch
Dr. Arch. Maria Teresa Jaquinta (ICCROM), Definition, classification and protection of cultural heritage rules
Dr. Eng. Andrea Marino, Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (IT), Earthquake damages: shoring procedures in emergency scenarios
Dr. Eng. Stefano Marsella, Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (IT), Protection of cultural buildings and sites from vegetation fires
Dr. Eng. Marcello Marzoli, Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (IT), Gathering and sharing data in emergency between rescue services and cultural heritage protection bodies
Dr. Eng. Luca Nassi, Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (IT), Protection of cultural heritage and artifacts from structural fires
Dr. Filipa Mascarenhas Neto, Direção-Geral do Património Cultural (PT)
Mr. Fabio Perossini, KPeople (UK), Roles and Responsibility in cultural heritage resilience, How to estimate costs to be faced. Voluntarism involvement. A strategy for the future
Dr. Mohammed Ravankhah, University of Stuttgart (GE), Climate change observed and predicted in Europe
Dr. Vanni Resta, KPeople (UK),
Dr. Maria Joao Reves, Nova Conservacao (PT), Integration of short and long term applications to enable improved decision making and faster reaction
Prof. Ulderico Santamaria, Università della Tuscia (IT), Protection measures on cultural heritage against environmental agents
Prof. Eren Uckan, Bogazici University and Kandilli Observatory (TR), Principles to face earthquake risks for cultural heritage
Five “Field Exercise” have been kept:
Before the disaster: Data collection – How to collect data about the Cultural Heritage in the preparedness phase;
First Aid to books in case of flood – Instructions to first responders to save books and papers involved in floods;
Steading of a earthquake-damaged masonry arch – Demonstration about the shoring of a masonry structure in the aftermath of the event (earthquake) applying operating procedure of the Italian National Firefighter Corps;
First aid to damaged fresco – Procedures to save frescoes damaged applying the technique of detaching from the walls;
Quick assessment of damaged structures – Demonstration of the procedures currently developed by the Italian National Firefighters (CNVVF) within the STORM project in the Terme di Diocleziano pilot site aimed at helping the quick assessment of the structural damage of a building using Geo-Radar and Laser Scanner equipment.
Two demonstrations have been dealing with scenarios concerning the assessment and the limitation of damages to Cultural Heritage after earthquakes or floods. The Italian Firefighters (CNVVF) showed, in particular, the techniques used in the immediate aftermath of an earthquakes to shore damaged historical buildings have been demonstrated with the construction, in few hours, of a shoring wooden structure aimed ad reinforcing a damaged masonry arch.
In the second scenario the quick assessment of a damaged building (even in this case, damage is not related necessarily to an earthquake) has been carried out using laser scanner and geo-radar technologies. This particular activity is an innovation action due to the European project and is currently developed in the pilot site of the Terme di Diocleziano compound, in Rome. The concept of the action is verify the feasibility of a procedure based on the comparison between a scanning of a damaged structure carried out by the firefighters after the damaged with a 3D image previously acquired by the owner/manager of the structure and available to firefighters even in emergency. Such possibility would allow to assess with extreme precision the displacement of the structure and decide with more confidence what kind of measures have to be taken. Other demonstrations have dealt with limitation of damages activities to frescoes and with salvage of flooded books.
The 2017 edition of the Summer School aimed at giving the basic information about the first year results of the STORM project. The second edition of the course will be organized during 2018. The course has been an experimental edition, limited to partners of the project and invited stakeholders. The purpose of the course has been the verification of the user requirements, in order to organize the 2018 edition within a framework closer to the stakeholders.
Risks to cultural heritage vary from catastrophic events (such as earthquakes, floods, etc) to gradual processes (such as chemical, physical, or biological degradation). The result is loss of value to the heritage. Sometimes, the risk does not involve any type of material damage to the heritage asset, but rather the loss of information about it, or the inability to access heritage items. So, heritage managers need to understand these risks well so as to make good decisions about protection of the heritage (for future generations) while also providing access for the current generation. ICCROM (Intergovernamental Organisation devoted to protect Cultural Heritage) and the Canadian Conservation Institute have published the “The ABC Method: a risk management approach to the preservation of cultural heritage”.
The handbookl is based on the five steps pf the management cycle (Establish the context, identify risks, analyze risks, evaluate risks, treat risks) and, for each step, three or more tasks are identified, whose complete list
1. Establish the context
Task 1: Consult with decision makers. Define the scope, goals and criteria.
Task 2: Collect and understand the relevant information.
Task 3: Build the value pie.
2. Identify risks
Task 1: Assemble the appropriate tools and strategies.
Task 2: Survey the heritage asset and make a photographic record.
Task 3: Identify specific risks, name them, and write their summary sentences.
3. Analyze risks
Task 1: Quantify each specific risk.
Task 2: Split or combine specific risks, as needed.
Task 3: Review and refine the analyses.
4. Evaluate risks
Task 1: Compare risks to each other, to criteria, to expectations.
Task 2: Evaluate the sensitivity of prioritization to changes in the value pie.
The document is an important study aimed at helping cultural heritage managers and risk assessment professionals in starting the process that limits damages to buildings and artefacts. The document is freely downloadable from the ICCROM website.
The project STORM (Safeguarding Cultural Heritage through Technical and Organisational Resources Management) has been funded by the Horizon 2020 EU Program and aims at defining a platform that managers of cultural heritage sites can use in improving preparedness, managing emergencies and planning restoration of damaged buildings.
The project specifically considers risks that the cultural sites have to face from either long-term degradation (whose action is far slower than the typical applications of feedback controls), or extreme traumatic events (whose action is much faster). Their common nature is the climate change. So, the specific scope of the project is creating a technological platform that allows a systematic comparison between a real (measured) state and a desired theoretical state.
Assumptions are kept to the minimum possible level and the difference (the measured error signal), is the main input for whatever algorithm may be used to compute the action (input) that needs to be applied to the mitigation process to achieve the desired objective. So, in other words, reliable and up-to-date measures of the key risk variables are the base line for the STORM predictive model but also for the identification of better intervention actions in terms of restoration and conservation of original materials that will be the starting point for a long term mitigation strategies. As a consequence, needs take into account the use of a large number of sensors, in order to acquire the most useful data. For example, in the case of a progressive relative displacement of a structural beam of an ancient monument, over time comparison of periodical LIDAR based detection of the artefact overall 3D model can be used to detect the small differences in the beam’s position over time.
What is a LiDAR?
According Wikipedia, Lidar (also called LIDAR, LiDAR, and LADAR) is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a laser light. The name lidar, sometimes considered an acronym of Light Detection And Ranging (sometimes Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging), was originally a portmanteau of light and radar. Lidar is popularly used to make high-resolution maps, with applications in geodesy, geomatics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, atmospheric physics, laser guidance, airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM), and laser altimetry. Lidar sometimes is called laser scanning and 3D scanning, with terrestrial, airborne, and mobile applications.
How Cultural Heritage can benefit of LiDAR (according STORM Project)
Based on such information a team of experts (structural engineers, archaeologists, geologists, restorers) will cooperate, in order to understand the causes and find the most adequate response. In this example, the action cannot be predetermined (nor taken automatically of course), but instead requires a careful and accurate cooperative design and planning of the action in order for it to be as effective and as unobtrusive as possible.
When a disaster occurs, general guidelines related to a wide range of events (e.g. flood, earthquake), existing for the specific site, must be dynamically adapted in near real time by ad-hoc team of experts in order to identify the most urgent recovery actions for the specific emergency. So, LIDAR sensors used for structural evaluation and track-changes of the artefact in terms of erosion monitoring as also for geomorphological assessment and mapping of the protected area can offer a valuable support to managers. Moreover, photogrammetric reconstruction by means of historical and contemporary aerial photography to track-changes can support when it comes to assessing the damages through time and forecast potential future threats
LIDAR equipment have been used until now mostly on movable supports, that are steadily placed on the ground to let an accurate record of data. More recently, RPAS devices have been tested as platform to be equipped with regular camera (high resolution RGB still pictures) for monitoring and mapping, Near Infrared camera and thermal and multispectral sensors or the localization and monitoring of buried structures, light-weight LiDAR for higher resolution 3D scanning. Such possibility has demonstrate its extreme importance during emergency situations: in fact, accessing parts of buildings in some cases can be difficult or can pose a severe risk to rescuers. During the rescue operations of the Central Italy earthquake of August 2016, RPAS mounted LIDAR have been used in many scenarios by the Italian National Fire Service and a complete report of such use hasn’t been published yet.
In which scenarios can LIDAR sensors prove to give data not replaceable by other sensors or any operational procedures? One of the first case is any natural or man-made threat that can damage the structures of heritage buildings. Suppose that, after an earthquake, in an ancient masonry buildings fixtures are identified. Even if, in general, it is possible to track the evolution of a fixture in a building, in the larger buildings it is actually impossible to be certain that a damage has been produced by a specific event.
It could have been caused previously for any reason (i.e. failure of foundation). The answer that the Italian STORM pilot site of museum of Terme di Diocleziano (Diocletian Baths – Rome) is currently testing is based on a LIDAR scanner of the buildings.
The hypothetical scenario sees a rescue call to firefighters that arrive with their own LIDAR, scan the portion of the building damaged and compare their results with the data previously acquired by the museum managers. As it’s known LiDAR needs time and, mostly, large quantity of data storage, but a small portion of a building is much more manageable. So, even with a high definition setting, the procedure could offer a new possibility to improve the reliability of the assessment that rescuers have to do during operations.
Dr. Ing. Stefano Marsella (CNVVF) for STORM Project
On April, 6th 2009 the Italian city of L’Aquila and the surrounding area have been striken by a 6,3 Mw earthquake, causing 309 victims, more than 1.600 injured and 10 billion euro of damages.
The Italian National Fire Corps responded swiftly, bringing in place some 1.000 professional rescuers within the first 24 hours, raised to more than 2.300 within the third day, together with some 1.100 vehicles and the needed resources and logistics. Of course the first and foremost target was to save lives, but soon after this task had been completed it was clear the urgency to deploy provisional measures for buildings to restore minimal safety conditions and avoid further damages.
L’Aquila was not a common town: besides the 73,000 civil buildings (half of which damaged), there were more than 600 registered monuments to save (172 of which damaged). More than 100 expert engineers of the Italian National Fire Corps have been working daily to assess civil buildings damages, but monuments required a more complex approach: firemen and their engineers had to work in team with cultural heritage experts provided by several Italian universities under the coordination of the Cultural Heritage Ministry. In fact, the design of provisional measures of each monument required several high-level expertises, as well as the practical approach of firemen, to adapt the design to an often compromised scenario. Such activity has been developed on a long term basis (it lasted more than an year). As a result, the involved professionals were periodically rotated: while firemen teams rotated with a week-long shift, the university teams could not always stay in place. A tool to work remotely was needed. Luckily, at that time the Italian National Fire Corps was testing the first release of the interoperability functionalities for the 100 provincial Control Centres.
CAP standard (from: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/amp/pwsp/CommonAlertingProtocol_en.html)
Even if does not exist a standard definition of DSS, it is commonly intended as a computer-based information system that supports business or organizational decision-making activities. When applied to daily or large scale emergencies, such definition implies the capacity of a DSS of analyzing and processing data generated or communicated by multiple sources. In more practical terms, a DSS developed to help a civil protection or a fire service Authority should be fed by data and information provided not only by the citizens to emergency numbers, but also from any other organization involved in the rescue process as well as by available sensors networks, from simulation tools using such data and from the wealth of information provided by GIS data services. The available technologies are adequate enough for developers to deliver even complex systems, however such systems are still rarely adopted due to a main obstacle: the data which could be timely fed to such systems are insufficient in quantity and quality and most often not up-to-date, mostly for both political and technical reasons. Experiences gathered in the course of recent emergencies involving either large areas or very high numbers of people have shown that, even in recent years, the coordination of rescue activities rarely, if not never, was able to take advantage from ICT tools. The main obstacles to data exchange are political attitudes and lack of interoperability services. Most often they are cross-related: on one hand, the extreme care with which emergency data is rightly treated brings most emergency managers at avoiding any exchange of data (e.g., not trusting readily available services able to erase part of the information), on the other hand, due to such attitude there is a lack of properly designed and developed interoperability services aimed at exchanging emergency data. As a consequence, whenever an uncommon scenario demands such data exchange, the resulting political pressure brings to either exchange data anyway, through improper (and potentially risky) means, or to avoid such data exchange (and miss the related advantages). In most contexts, this issue can pose severe problems, since even if the political pressure is aimed at improving coordination through automatic data exchange, the existing systems cannot be updated in time in order to ensure such functionalities. The sole possibility to overcome such situation is to reach an agreement between the different authorities, aimed at converting and exchanging data in a common protocol, which can be read by non homogeneous systems. Such solution has been tested in Italy in L’Aquila earthquake (2009), when many common cultural heritage buildings have been damaged. The need of coordinating in different teams of Italian firefighters working on the buildings a large territorial area of under the direction of the Cultural Heritage Administration has been solved using a system of data exchange based on the international standard CAP (common alerting protocol). The web-based system has allowed to speed up a process that needed several approval steps that would have implied continuous meetings.
The 909 Standard “Protection of Cultural Resource Properties — Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship” – 2017 Edition has been published by National Fire Protection Association.
The standard describes principles and practices of protection for cultural resource properties (museums, libraries, and places of worship etc.), their contents, and collections, against conditions or physical situations with the potential to cause damage or loss. The updates for the 2017 edition include:
expanded provisions for outdoor collections and archaeological sites and their protection against wildfire;
further clarification of sprinkler system corrosion protection criteria;
mandated integrated system testing per NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing;
the addition of numerous events to Annex B, Fire Experience in Cultural Properties.
According to the 909 code, libraries, museums, and places of worship housed in historic structures have also to comply with the requirements of NFPA 914 (Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures).
The standard includes provisions for fire prevention, emergency operations, fire safety management, security, emergency preparedness and inspection, testing, and maintenance of protection systems.
As in the previous editions, criteria are provided for new construction, addition, alteration, renovation, and modification projects, along with specific rules addressing places of worship and museums, libraries, and their collections.
STORM (Safeguarding Cultural Heritage through Technical and Organisational Resources Management) is a EU research and development project funded in the early 2016 by the EU under the Horizon 2020 program (Call: DRS-11-2015: Disaster Resilience & Climate Change, Topic 3: Mitigating the impacts of climate change and natural hazards on Cultural Heritage sites, structures and artefacts).
STORM will study the impact of climate changes on cultural heritage and the mitigation strategies of their effects on the buildings and artefacts.
The project will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team providing all competences needed to assure the implementation of a functional and effective solution to support all the actors involved in the management and preservation of Cultural Heritage sites.An important result of STORM will be a cooperation platform for collaboratively collecting and enhancing knowledge, processes and methodologies on sustainable and effective safeguarding and management of European Cultural Heritage. The system will be capable of performing risk assessment on natural hazards taking into account environmental and anthropogenic risks, and of using Complex Events processing. Results will be tested in relevant case studies in five different countries: Italy, Greece, UK, Portugal and Turkey. The sites and consortium have been carefully selected so as to adequately represent the rich European Cultural Heritage, while associate partners that can assist with liaisons and links to other stakeholders and European sites are also included.
Starting from previous research experiences and tangible outcomes, STORM proposes a set of novel predictive models and improved non-invasive and non-destructive methods of survey and diagnosis, for effective prediction of environmental changes and for revealing threats and conditions that could damage cultural heritage sites. Moreover, STORM will determine how different vulnerable materials, structures and buildings are affected by different extreme weather events together with risks associated to climatic conditions or natural hazards, offering improved, effective adaptation and mitigation strategies, systems and technologies. An integrated system featuring novel sensors (intra fluorescent and wireless acoustic sensors), legacy systems, state of the art platforms (including LiDAR and UAVs), as well as crowdsourcing techniques will be implemented, offering applications and services over an open cloud infrastructure. An important result of STORM will be a cooperation platform for collaboratively collecting and enhancing knowledge, processes and methodologies on sustainable and effective safeguarding and management of European Cultural Heritage. The system will be capable of performing risk assessment on natural hazards taking into account environmental and anthropogenic risks, and of using Complex Events processing. Results will be tested in relevant case studies in five different countries: Italy, Greece, UK, Portugal and Turkey. The sites and consortium have been carefully selected so as to adequately represent the rich European Cultural Heritage, while associate partners that can assist with liaisons and links to other stakeholders and European sites are also included. The project will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team providing all competences needed to assure the implementation of a functional and effective solution to support all the actors involved in the management and preservation of Cultural Heritage sites (from the STORM project website).
One of the main results of the first year of the project has been the course on preparedness and first aid to Cultural Heritage “STORM 2017 Summer School“, held in Rome on 11 to 13 September 2017. The course has been conceived as a test of the 2018 edition.