The Austin Historical Survey Wiki brings together citizens' local knowledge with the expertise of preservation professionals through an on-line application to improve the transparency, accuracy, and timeliness of historic survey information. Users are able to look up information using interactive maps and query tools, share information about historic resources, and access and upload photographs of historic resources. While the web tool was developed as an information system and public engagement tool for the City of Austin, the project is intended as a replicable model that can be used in other communities.
Historic preservation conserves the embodied energy of buildings, while retaining the buildings and landscapes that make cities great places to live and visit. It is a means of protecting cities' heritage through tangible reminders of cities' history and evolution. Survey and documentation of historic resources are essential steps in effectively integrating historic preservation and community and neighborhood planning.
In conjunction with the Center for Sustainable Development, Dr. Michael Holleran is leading development of a participatory, wiki-inspired web application for the City of Austin to support the comprehensive survey of Austin’s historic resources.
About the Project
The project is a partnership of the University of Texas at Austin Schools of Architecture and Information, the City of Austin, and the Heritage Society of Austin. The UT project team consists of a multi-disciplinary team of faculty, staff, and students, including experts in information technology, historic preservation, planning, and architectural history.
The project has proceeded over several years in phases. The first phase of the project included background research, exploration of prototypes and user groups, identification of requirements and functionalities, and development of a preliminary database architecture and interface designs. This phase is summarized in a Phase I Report [pdf 3.5mb].
The second phase of the project involved development of a beta survey tool and testing in a pilot neighborhood. The North University Neighborhood was selected for testing in the second phase of the project. The phase was funded in part through a Certified Local Government grant from the National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, as administered by the Texas Historical Commission.* It was also partially funded by the City of Austin.
The current phase of the project involves development and testing of the Wiki in East Austin. It also includes optimization of the beta tool for use on mobile devices. The current phase is being supported in part by a Preserve America grant administred by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior* and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
Future phases could include loading of legacy data for areas in West Austin, integration of the Wiki into the City of Austin's geographic information system (GIS), and development of additional features and training.
UT Project Team
- Michael Holleran, Associate Professor, Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, University of Texas School of Architecture (UTSOA)
- Jenni Minner, PhD Candidate, Community and Regional Planning, UTSOA
- Josh Conrad, Programmer, UTSOA
- Andrea Roberts, PhD Student, Community and Regional Planning, UTSOA
- Bjørn Sletto, Assistant Professor, Community and Regional Planning, UTSOA
- Kathryn Pierce, Doctoral Student, UT School of Information
- Seher Dholakia, Student Assistant