Why do we need Computer Aided Recording Tools?

The drafting profession took a wrong turn when entering the computer age in the 1980s. Somehow the emphasis stayed on the graphic output of these new tools, often even on the paper manifestations of these graphics, rather than on the underlying database containing the information in question. The CART software and suite of tools reverse this emphasis, concentrating on building a database, which it then processes automatically to produce an intelligent computer model of the facility.

Recent advances in technology have radically changed the ways in which measurements are taken and drawings are developed but only limited work has been done to develop tools and techniques specifically for the documentation of cultural assets.  Databases, Computer Aided Drafting, Photogrammetry and modern Surveying Technology are all useful tools which have been successfully applied to this task but the integration of these components into coherent packages of systems and techniques that are fast and easy to use in the field is lagging behind other fields. There is also a need to tailor these tools so that they will provide the information necessary for the efficient management of these cultural resources with a minimum amount of post-processing.

The difficulties encountered when recording for the computer have been due, not to a shortage of appropriate software, but to the more fundamental problem of a misconception concerning what exactly a computerized record should be. The CART approach has been to record objects not points, lines or surfaces and to record measurements as numbers rather than as graphics. We now have working prototypes of tools and software for a variety applications. They have different capabilities, accuracies and costs, but all will build a database of measurements that will provide input to a data processing engine that will produce an intelligent (fully linked to the database) 3-D CAD model quickly and automatically.

Last change: January 24, 1998 (Steve Nickerson) steve@icomos.org