A Digital Avatar of Venice will Live on Forever in Posterity

In case Venice disappears beneath waters, this project will make sure it is preserved for posterity, in just one terabyte of data
The island near Venice is home to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini
The island near Venice is home to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini

You have heard of virtual city tours, immersive city explorations but have you heard of a real time digital city

Researchers are trying to preserve the drowning city of Venice for posterity, in a digital avatar. Last year, Venice experienced devastating floods that submerged 85% of the city and caused hundreds of millions of euros worth of damage. It was the worst flood to hit the city in 50 years.

The floods are only getting worse every year.

Fearing that the Italian city may be lost to humanity forever very soon, a team of researchers and scientists have started working on digitising monuments in order to preserve its cultural heritage. The project will create a digital avatar of the City of the Doges.

The project is a collaboration between researchers from the Factum Foundation, supported by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the Ecole Polytechnique F&eacuted&eacuterale de Lausanne and the start-up Iconem.

The first thing to be digitised was the famous Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore located on the small island of San Giorgio. It took all of a day to map the interior of the structure with drones and laser remote sensing technique. The project team has used a LiDAR (light-detection and ranging) scanner which sends out a pulsed laser light towards the target object and measures the time it takes the laser to return. It calculates the distance the light has travelled, and plots that point in a digital 3D space. 

The LiDAR has recorded inscriptions so high up they cannot be read from the ground. And when Factum will have recorded the roofs using a drone, the grounds and the all-important relationship between the surface of the island and the rising and falling levels of the water, there will be a perfectly accurate record of the whole.

The project will also help closely monitor the rising water surface that might cause serious damages to the heritage buildings and rare artifacts and books here.

A thorough digital record of all its heritage buildings has been in extremely high resolution for this purpose. And now, the entire city is just an entity of one terabyte.

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