Citizen Culture & Heritage: Lest We Forget

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People have a lot of cultural knowledge. We need tools that reveal the many values of cultural assets, that allow people to contribute cultural data to knowledge repositories, and allow crowdsourced validation, cleaning and linking disparate datasets.

Our tool 'Citizen Culture & Heritage: Lest We Forget' provides access to an important cultural dataset - the 22 km of Ballarat's Avenue of Honour that commemorate the people in the region who served in World War I. The avenue plaque dataset contains the name and battalion of these service people, and the location of the plaque. Our tool allows the crowd to verify links from this textual data on memorial plaques to the War Memorial’s service records, photos and stories. This uses the war memorial API. It also links to Trove to find historical images and stories about the people and battalions on the plaques. The public can also provide content by uploading their own pictures, videos and textual information. Images of the trees can be viewed by connecting the spatial location of the plaques to Google Street View.

For people interested in preserving cultural heritage, data on the environmental, economic and social values provided by these cultural assets is also important. Ballarat’s Avenue of Honour does not just have cultural value – it also has important environmental values through the trees planted along its length. We have spatially joined plaque information to Ballarat's tree inventory dataset and can show the species, size and health of the trees planted with each plaque. This spatial information is also linked to other environmental data. Trees provide important food and habitat for birds, so we have calculated the density of birds near the avenue from records in the Atlas of Living Australia. We have also calculated the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, (NDVI) which is calculated from the difference between infrared and red channels from Landsat imagery. NDVI is a good measure of the greenness of a landscape, and has been shown to be a good predictor of many health and environmental benefits.

These cultural landscapes do not exist in isolation. The changing social context of the avenue can be seen by cycling through historical, and current, planning zone information. This clearly shows how Ballarat is growing quickly and engulfing the Avenue, and highlights the need for tools such as this to engage the community and help plan, and manage these important cultural and environmental assets.

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Datasets Used: 
Ballarat avenue of honour plaque data ( War Memorial API National Archives of Australia API Trove Ballarat Tree data ( Planing zone data ( - note this wouldn't download so I used a previously downloaded dataset) Atlas of living Australia species occurrence data Landsat imagery (NASA)

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