Do Good, Do Well: CyArks Data Donation Partner Program

With this weeks launch of the donated Fort Conger project, a partnership with Parks Canada, SarPoint Engineering Ltd., and the University of Calgary, on, CyArk is pleased to have an opportunity to share the stories of some early successes with our Data Donation Partner Program (

This new program utilizes the concept of crowd sourcing to add digital data sets of cultural heritage sites scanned by commercial service providers or industry suppliers to CyArks archive. Through the Data Donation Partner Program, CyArk hopes to exponentially grow its archive of sites that have been digitally documented in our on-going mission to protect this heritage for the future, while working with partners and site authorities to make the data uniquely available to scholars, enthusiasts, heritage experts, and site conservators.

The Data Donation Partner Program began with three service provider partnerships in early 2013, and CyArk has now solidified half a dozen more. CyArks aim in establishing this program was to create a win-win situation so that commercial service providers could do good for their community and receive tangible benefits from the program, allowing them to do well in their commercial practices. Participation in the program is an excellent way for firms to give back to their community, generate local and national interest in the firm and local heritage, train staff in new technologies, and stand out from the competition. CyArk asks participants to provide pro-bono digital documentation services as well as a small financial donation (often tax deductible), which defrays the costs of data archiving, and allows for the creation of an online project portal featuring both the service provider and project data.

CyArk structured the program to provide data donation partners with support each step of the way. This includes: selecting a site that is meaningful to the firm and its local community, training the firms staff in heritage documentation methods, coordinating the logistics of on-site documentation, assisting with data processing, archiving the data in perpetuity in CyArks secure archive with Iron Mountain, recognizing the service provider as a Data Donation Partner on the CyArk website, creating a dedicated project portal for the donated data on, and coordinating extensive press coverage of the firms digital documentation expertise and data donation.

One of the first partnerships established through the program was with DJS Associates, Inc. (, a forensics firm located just outside Philadelphia in Abington, PA. DJS partnered with CyArk to bring state-of-the-art reality capture technologies to Frank Lloyd Wrights only Jewish synagogue, Beth Sholom. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the US National Trust for Historic Preservation designated this modernist masterpiece as one of only 17 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings worthy of preservation, and it was listed as a US National Historic Landmark in 2007.The synagogue, located in Elkins Park, PA, is a 10-minute drive from the DJS office, and was selected by DJS staff because of its status as an iconic local landmark that also has national recognition.

DJS conducted 3D LiDAR laser scanning on-site and used the digital data to provide the Beth Sholom Congregation with detailed, state-of-the-art documentation that was much needed to determine best practices for the buildings conservation. Beth Sholom, like many of Frank Lloyd Wrights modernist structures, is built with temporary materials and thus faces serious structural challenges; these challenges include water leaks from the glass, steel, and aluminum roof during rainy weather. The building also narrowly escaped significant damage from a tree that fell during Superstorm Sandy and missed the exterior walls foundations by a few feet while the large branches still damaged several side panels.

DJSs project at Beth Sholom was featured by CBS and NBC Philadelphia news affiliates, as well as numerous local internet, print, and radio news sources, providing DJS with local and national news coverage. The 3D data from DJSs work at Beth Sholom successfully brought attention to the firm and the local community and will provide invaluable information to the site managers of this at-risk structure designed by one of the US greatest architects. Of the partnership DJS President Steven Schorr, PE said, Although we have extensive scanning experience in our area of expertise, by partnering with CyArk we were able to pick up additional technical skills along with significant marketing benefits.

The Beth Sholom project proved so beneficial to DJS that the firm is working with CyArk to coordinate the donation of additional projects through the Data Donation Partner Program. CyArks heritage partners in the Pennsylvania and Washington, DC are discussing a series of high profile projects within the area to be scanned by DJS.

Momentum is growing for this new program, and CyArk would like to gratefully acknowledge our other Data Donation Partners from all over the world: Haag 3D Solutions (, 3D Virtual Design Technology (, Langan (, Maptek (, SarPoint Engineering (, and Stantec ( Each has chosen to contribute to both their local community and wider global public while taking advantage of the programs benefits, exemplifying that by doing good, you do well.

The new Data Donation Partner Program is now underway and providing a clear path for successful, meaningful contributions to the online digital archive and the upcoming CyArk 500 Challenge ( initiative to digitally document 500 at-risk heritage sites within the next five years. However, from its founding CyArk has been fortunate to have strong partnerships with service provider partners. To-date, the archive has benefited from the donation of cultural heritage site data from Autodesk, Christofori und Partner, EKG Baukultur GmbH and LookyCreative, Gauge Point Calibration, Metco HDS, Plowman Craven, SCDS, Scott Page Design, Silicon Valley Land Surveying, Sinclair Knight Merz, SkyBucket 3D, Wipco, and Summit Engineering and Design. CyArk anticipates many more fruitful partnerships through this program, which has proved to be a win for humanitys cultural heritage and service providers alike.

If you are interested in learning more or if your firm would like to partner with CyArk, please contact Jaime Pursuit, Partnership & Development

About the Author

Justin Barton

Justin Barton is the Chief Technology Advocate as well as Manager of Partnership Development for the California-based, cultural heritage non-profit CyArk. Justin's role is varied and spans the breadth of CyArk activities. He has spent considerable time over the years helping establish CyArk's standards for both long-term data archiving as well as data collection during field work. He also manages CyArk's University partnerships and will often conduct training sessions with CyArk's educational institution-based Technology Centers. The trainings cover data collection, data processing, and data management for cultural heritage digital preservation projects. Justin holds a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MA in Field Archaeology from University College London's Institute of Archaeology. His graduate research focused on the use of laser scanning to create improved conservation tools for site archaeologists. Justin has published multiple articles both about his research as well as CyArk's projects in peer-reviewed academic journals and industry publications. He can often be found representing CyArk at various conferences and guest lectures. Justin continues to have a personal interest in the use of laser scanning for preservation and conservation of earthen architecture, one of archaeology's most fragile resource.
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