Every year, students around the world learn about the Statue of Liberty and other similar landmarks. But learning in a classroom is nothing compared to seeing and experiencing these extraordinary monuments as if standing inside them.
As I look at some of the wonders of today’s world and see the ravages of time, both natural and caused by humans, I wonder if my children and grandchildren will be able to experience the same feeling of awe that I felt the day I stood in front of the Statue of Liberty. Whether it’s the Great Wall of China or Toronto’s Fort York, every cultural heritage site represents a part of our history and one that needs to be experienced beyond a textbook.
Thankfully, there is a way to achieve what was once science fiction. Through an innovative not-for-profit called CyArk, people generations from now will be able to experience these monuments through 3D laser imaging. My company, Iron Mountain Incorporated, stores and provides services to protect and preserve important business information and data and has partnered with CyArk, to preserve important historical and cultural monuments like Toronto’s historic Fort York. With its strategically aligned focus on preservation and protection, CyArk is the perfect non-profit partner to help us leverage our expertise to make a difference beyond our corporate charter.
To date, CyArk has digitally preserved landmarks across the world, including Lukang Longshan Temple in Taiwan, the Washington Monument in DC, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, and now Fort York, creating a 3D library of the world’s cultural heritage sites before they are lost.
As of this October, through Iron Mountain’s partnership with CyArk, the process will begin to preserve historic Fort York, transforming it into a living legacy in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Fort York is laden with rich Canadian history dating back to the late 1700s, and to ensure future generations can experience and learn about the extensive history of this monumental site, this physical landmark will be brought into the digital age, where it will be preserved in an online virtual library along with other world heritage sites.
We can now access exact, 3D replicas of Fort York and other global heritage sites, and the possibilities of education and conservation are endless as access to history is no longer limited to those who are proximate. Students in a small classroom in Kenora or Victoria can walk through a world heritage site without ever leaving the classroom.
Why this technology is so critical is that it pushes the art of the possible, leveraging the tools of digital transformation to drive value in new ways we were only dreaming about 20 and 30 years ago in futuristic movies. Today, the threat of losing our historical sites is “virtually” gone.
Brian Rosen is senior vice-president and general manager of Iron Mountain Canada
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