Google helps digitally preserve historic places like Notre Dame

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A LiDAR scan created by CyArk of the Temple of Apollo at Corinth. Image: CyArk By Rachel Kraus2019-04-18 08:00:00 UTC

The world watched in despair on Monday as fire engulfed one of the western world’s most treasured landmarks, Notre Dame

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but a disaster like this is not unprecedented. Thanks to climate change, armed conflict, development, and human action, threats to historical places are all too common

Surprisingly, one of the best ways to prepare for those threats is not just structural re-enforcements or other physical defensive measures, but technology.

On Thursday, Google Arts & Culture is celebrating World Heritage Day by expanding its Open Heritage project, which digitally preserves historical sites online. Open Heritage is an initiative launched last year in partnership with the organization CyArk that puts digital 3D renderings, virtual tours, and other data about historical sites, in an open source Google Arts & Culture portal.

Why create digital models of the real world? In these volatile times — when rising sea levels threaten to sink Venice, civil war results in the destruction of ancient Syrian landmarks and artifacts, and Notre Dame burns — creating detailed 3D renderings and blueprints