Ukraine War: 3D modeling application of cultural heritage

Volunteers armed with smartphones are using technology to preserve Ukraine’s cultural heritage in a snap.

As the war in Ukraine raged, the people of this country rallied to protect important historical sites from Russian bombs.

Early in the conflict, it was seen that what was possible was being done to preserve these Ukrainian legacies, including wrapping the statues in Styrofoam. These images inspired a group to find another way to preserve the country’s culture.

“The fastest way to erase a people’s national identity is to destroy their cultural heritage,” says Ukrainian architect Tao Thomsen.

Thomsen founded the Backup Ukraine project, a collaborative effort launched earlier this year that includes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, as a partner.

The project allows ordinary citizens to use a free smartphone app to scan and create 3D models of monuments and buildings.

Users simply walk slowly around an object as the app takes a series of photos and creates a model. The models are then stored in a digital cloud-based archive.

“Everyday people using just their phones can create truly accurate 3D models at a level normally reserved for professionals with multimillion-dollar equipment,” says Thomsen.

Soren la Cour Jensen, chairman of the board of directors of the Danish branch of Blue Shield, an international organization that works to protect cultural heritage in countries facing conflict or disaster. This application can be used to not only create models of great monuments like you. You’ll find in a museum, but whatever people find is culturally important.

Blue Shield Denmark is also a partner in Backup Ukraine.

“We are now reaching out to everyone, potentially everyone has a mobile phone and they can help protect their own cultural heritage,” he said.

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