Learning from mistakes - Cultural Heritage Crisis Management in Post-Disaster Areas


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Learning From Mistakes describes a new strategic approach to post disaster cultural heritage crisis management, focusing on the experience drawn from the two earthquakes that hit Italy in 2009 and 2012. Crowdsourcing, FOSS, and local broadcasting points are suggested for sharing knowledge and streamlining intervention in a more effective way. First presented in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, at ROSCCA 2013 (25-29 March 2013) in a slightly differing version, this presentation was shown at MuseumNext 2013 in Amsterdam (NL) on 13 May 2013.

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Learning from mistakes - Cultural Heritage Crisis Management in Post-Disaster Areas

  1. 1. Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam (NL)12-14 May 2013Learning from Mistakes:A Different Strategy forCultural Heritage Crisis Managementin Post-Disaster Areas(Italy 2009 – 2012)Alessandro Califano
  2. 2. In the night of 6 April 2009 the Italian region ofAbruzzi was devastated by an earthquakeAround 300 peopledied, anddestruction hit avast number ofprivate homes...
  3. 3. ...public buildings both old and new...
  4. 4. ...as well as a large amount of historical buildings andcultural institutions
  5. 5. ICOM ItalyImmediately wrote out a call to its membersSet up the Cultural Heritage High RisksCommission in a matter of daysSet up an emergency restoration centre at theMuseum of Celano after a few weeksEffectively cooperated with Fire brigades, alarge national association of volunteers, andlocal boards for over a year
  6. 6. Storage of damaged artefacts at the Museum ofCelano (MUSè), 2009
  7. 7. In May 2012 the Italian region of Emilia-Romagnawas also hit by an earthquakeThough victimswere few, theregional economywas strongly hit...
  8. 8. In 2012, destruction mostly hit productive implantsas well as historical buildings
  9. 9. A quantitative analysisConsidering only the historical buildings in thefour affected provinces of Bologna, Ferrara,Modena, and Reggio Emilia we have thesefigures:Bologna: 203Ferrara: 94Modena: 126Reggio Emilia: 106
  10. 10. In this case, however...ICOM Italys Cultural Heritage High RisksCommission didnt even send out a Call forAction to its membersRescue attempts of historical buildings andmuseum artefacts were mostly undertaken bythe fire and emergency brigadesEven trying to obtain a list of what existed, andwhat had been damaged was – for weeks! –almost impossible
  11. 11. Reasons for failure in 2012:Though State driven actions were much morecoordinated and effective than in 2009, toomuch reliance on local administrations by theHigh Risks Commission proved to be a weekpoint, slowing down the whole rescue processRegional geographic databases proved to benot homogeneous enough, making combinedrescue efforts based on common knowledgealmost impossible to achieve
  12. 12. Moreover:The trend to regionalize the model of action ofICOM Italy – though it is the Italian Chapter ofan international professional organization –has significantly weakened its potentialeffectivenessThis same trend has made the ties the HighRisks Commission had with other internationalbodies and programmes – like ICOMOS orBlue Shield – less effective
  13. 13. Into the Future – CrowdsourcingIn the Editors note of the 15 June 2012 editionof “The Museum Studies Weekly” I wrote:The Commissions failure in the presentoccasion calls for a redefinition of its role...It should … re-programme its mission as afacilitator of grass roots action, and focuson the documentation of damages.A crowd sourcing based approach wouldallow both laymen and new stakeholders tostep in...
  14. 14. Into the Future – Broadcast & FOSSFrom this point of view, an excellent work hasbeen done in post-disaster areas by – evenvery small – local audio broadcasting stations.A crucial stakeholder, in the aftermath of the2012 earthquake, has been an open group ofICT people, Hackathon Terremoto, who shortlyafter the earthquake started delivering detailedinformation about FOSS based tools to keeptrack of events and give feedback from post-disaster areas.
  15. 15. Mobile Apps and G-FOSS “Bring the Food” (L) is a crowd-sourcing webmobile App for surplus food redistribution “OpenStreet Map” (R) is a G-FOSS with freegeographic data and versatile tagging features
  16. 16. Crowdsourcing – Mobile Field Alerts 1/2“GeoSDIgeoPoints” allows visual and textualinfo delivered from smartphones
  17. 17. Crowdsourcing – Mobile Field Alerts 2/2Georeferenced pictures of an event can besent from any smartphone to a geographicdatabase through a downloadable App.A short description of the event can be chosenfrom a list, with further data added by the user,or by the system (date, time, etc.).The geographic database is then updated onthe run, and the info – visible to all users as ageographic repository – becomes immediatelyusable by rescue teams and any other publicstakeholder.
  18. 18. ConclusionsNeither FOSS nor risk awareness can of coursealtogether avoid disasters of all kinds, and theirtragic consequences.Nevertheless, learning from our mistakes, anddeveloping better tools and more effectivestrategies, will let us look with confidencetowards the challenges that tomorrow mightbring us.Thank you!