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Hi-tech heritage for P-E

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The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, in conjunction with Aspire Solutions has started creating a map-based online register, including photography, location and rating of every heritage building in Port Elizabeth.

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality has taken an innovative approach to managing its architectural heritage, creating a map-based online register that is in the process of locating, photographing and rating every heritage building in the city of Port Elizabeth.

‚PE is very aware of its unique and valuable architectural heritage,‚ says Andre Steyn of Aspire Solutions, the company that developed the mapping software and key systems underlying the register. ‚The National Heritage Resources Act specifies that permission is needed to modify or demolish any building older than 60 years old, but built environment professionals inside and outside the municipality realised that more information was needed. Not all old buildings are worth preserving, and some much newer buildings deserve heritage status.‚

Working together with heritage experts from the City of Cape Town as well as two PE-Based architectural practices, namely The Matrix and The Workplace, Aspire Solutions implemented a methodology for rating the heritage value of buildings based on a visual inspection. The group surveyed key areas, including The Red Location, Walmer Location, Central and Richmond Hill in the first phase and Mill Park, Walmer, North End and Uitenhage in the second phase.

Armed with hand-held data capture devices, architects literally walked the streets of Port Elizabeth identifying buildings of heritage value, taking photographs, assigning scores and linking everything to a central map database.

‚The devices synchronised automatically to the municipality once a day, so whatever data had been captured on a Monday was available to everyone by Tuesday,‚ says Steyn. ‚The basic data capture was done on the handheld devices, then the architects could add longer notes back at the office. It proved to be an extremely efficient, user-friendly system.‚

‚This is a great example of how partnerships between domain experts and spatial software specialists can solve business problems,‚ says Steyn. ‚The municipality now has an efficient heritage management tool that was relatively painless and cost-effective to create.‚

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