|20 December 2017
New app to help preserve British and Irish rock art
Citizen scientists can help protect some of the world's most ancient rock art using a new mobile app designed by researchers at Newcastle University.
Using the smartphone's GPS, the app locates the site of the rock art in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and allows users to report on its condition and any potential threats, such as damage from vehicles or livestock, encroaching development, climate change and pollution.
Scientists and heritage practitioners at Newcastle University and Queen's University Belfast developed the data fields with input from members of the public and people who have responsibility for the caring for rock art.
Doctor Aron Mazel, Reader in Heritage Studies at Newcastle University says: "Previously, any reporting was done on paper and that's not always practical when you're in the middle of the countryside and there's a heavy wind. Almost everyone has a smartphone with them at all times, so creating an app was the obvious way to solve the problem."
Once uploaded, the reports are distributed to the University's project team, via the dedicated "Heritage and Science: Working Together in the CARE of Rock Art" project portal, and directly to heritage officials in the areas where the art is located. If there is no mobile phone signal, reports can be saved and uploaded when a connection is again established.
Doctor Myra Giesen, a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University, says: "What's nice about the app is that as well as flagging up any immediate concerns, it also gives us a baseline. This means we'll be able to monitor how the rock art is doing over a period of years."
Mark Turner, Senior Research Software Engineer at Newcastle University, adds: "It's very satisfying to see our skills being used to enhance the safeguarding of ancient heritage resources."
The app is free to download and use. Search for "Rock Art CARE" on the Apple AppStore and Google Play, and visit the CARE project website to learn more about the project.
Edited from Newcastle University Press Office (23 November 2017)
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