The use of GIS for hazard mitigation for historic resources
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Geographical Information Systems (GIS) offers preservationists a unique tool with the potential to revolutionize hazard mitigation for historic resources. The program’s ability to link information to a specific geographical location and efficiently disperse this information can solve two of the most destructive issues of current natural disaster response practices: a lack of organized information and an efficient means of disseminating this data. The resources necessary to implement a GIS program and to the requisite cooperation between both public and private preservation organizations may seem prohibitive to many preservation programs; yet, the benefits make this initial investment cost-effective. Despite efforts to mitigate disasters, both natural and man-made, their effects constantly threaten historic resources. In the past two decades, the United States has made significant strides toward a greater protection of these sites; yet damage continues to occur. In this thesis, I have investigated methods of risk mitigation implemented in the United States at both the state and local level, and in the public and private sectors, using New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a case study. Through this analysis, I discovered that a lack of accessible, organized information and cooperation between preservationists compounded the damage caused by the actual event itself. I argue that the implementation of GIS could solve many of these issues by providing a means of both consolidating data and distributing it among responders. In this work, I demonstrate the ability of GIS to easily solve the problems of current mitigation practices for historic resources. By discussing the tools and basic functions of the program, I clearly illustrate this utility to those unfamiliar with the program, while arguing its potential as a mitigation implement to all preservationists.