• Cultural Resources Geographic Information Systems (CRGIS)

Cultural Resources GIS: Mapping History For The Future.

The Cultural Resources Geographic Information Systems facility (CRGIS) is the only program within the National Park Service (NPS) dedicated to developing and fostering the use of geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) technologies in documenting, analyzing and managing cultural resources. For 20 years the mission of CRGIS has been to institutionalize GIS and GPS into the daily practice of cultural resource management by adapting these technologies to field surveys and inventory maintenance, as well as addressing links between cultural resource databases using locational information, all with the aim of increasing the effectiveness of cultural resource planning. Functioning inside and outside the NPS, CRGIS partners include other NPS programs and units, State/Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, local agencies, preservation organizations, universities and other Federal agencies. CRGIS provides a wide array of technical services and training as well in applying these technologies to specific cultural resource management projects.

CRGIS works on projects that illustrate how GIS and GPS technologies can better illustrate cultural resources management issues, provide increased access to resources, and allow users to engage in dynamic analysis of sites. Projects range from focusing on the documentation of engineering features and structures to large landscapes and traditional cultural properties. CRGIS also works on using GIS and GPS to help inventory cultural resources from battlefields to cemeteries. With increased awareness of climate change, following disasters, such as hurricanes or floods, CRGIS develops strategies to use these technologies to identify and evaluate affected properties, determine their historic significance and document the resources to assist in compliance with historic preservation laws, as well as provide protection in the event of other disasters. CRGIS explores the use of all forms of spatial technologies related to geographically representing cultural resources, providing better visualization, analysis and resource protection/planning tools.

Sharing and disseminating locational information is also important for understanding the context within which resources acquire significance and remains critically important in quickly responding to emergencies. With that in mind, CRGIS is working to create cultural resource enterprise GIS data that can be accessed inside and outside the NPS to help plan for and manage resources like those listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Further, under OMB Circular A-16 the NPS is designated the lead federal agency for the cultural resource data theme throughout the federal government, tasked with providing standards, guidelines and methods of sharing information. In this capacity, CRGIS serves as the Cultural Resource Theme Lead for the Federal Geographic Data committee and collaborates with other federal, state and Tribal agencies to develop tools and standards to facilitate this data sharing, developing cultural resource spatial data transfer standards.