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Using Harris Geospatial Products For Preventive Conservation of Cultural Heritage Sites

ArTeK is a NAIS (NEXTANT Applications & Innovative Solutions) initiative in the frame of ARTES 20 IAP programme of the European Space Agency (ESA), supported by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It consists of an advanced satellite enabled service for the support of Cultural Heritage (CH) preventive conservation, bridging a gap in the market where systematic high frequency monitoring over a medium-to-large spatial coverage scale is, to date, not available.

ArTeK system enables the provision of an end-to-end service – going from the collection of geo-physical and site-specific parameters for the calculation of key indicators, to the implementation of site-specific risk and decision support models, based on hierarchical / multi temporal / multi-sensory methods. Through the ArTeK services, the monitoring of the state of conservation of Cultural Heritage is more efficient. This improves the decision-making and programmatic capacity of institutions responsible for conservation, reducing in this way maintenance costs.


The main functional components of the system make use of both terrestrial, unmanned aerial and space elements including earth observation data, satellite positioning data and satellite communication services jointly exploited for the provision of an end-to-end service applicable to organizations responsible for the management of cultural properties, from safeguard support to management of visitors and fruition.

Satellite Earth Observation within ArTeK is used for serval purposes including:

  • Identification and evaluation of environmental hazards that could have a potential negative impact over cultural assets
  • Conditions evaluations
  • Sites and artifacts mapping
  • Identification of changes.


SAR data is acquired from COSMO-SkyMed and Sentinel-1 satellites and directly ingested into SARscape via the dedicated data download tool. Data over a period from 2013 to 2017 is automatically analyzed to generate a Persistent Scatterers (PS) multitemporal analysis displayed on a map in order to monitor and understand high accuracy ground subsidence in this earthquake prone area, infrastructure displacement dynamics and site motion hazards. The institution responsible for conservation of the site can then use this information and provide maintenance accordingly.

Persistent Scatterers analysis of Tivoli using 89 COSMO-SkyMed images taken between 2014 and 2017


A time series of optical satellite imagery covering the Tivoli area is collected from WorldView-3, imported in ENVI and coregistered. A support vector machine classification – an automated workflow in ENVI – is then run on all images to classify terrain specification. Changes are automatically analyzed and laid on a classification map.

For increased accuracy NAIS has also developed a custom task workflow using IDL, Harris`s own powerful development language that allows extending ENVI features and functionality to fit bespoke project requirements. Within this custom workflow, panchromatic and multispectral images of the area are analyzed and classification results are fused to present the output on a final, more accurate classification map.

This kind of analysis helps to understand the urbanization of the Tivoli area and detect any new excavations, dumps or illegal digging that might harm the environment and have a negative impact on cultural assets within Tivoli.

Classification map of the Tivoli historical centre with objects fusion using a custom ENVI workflow designed with IDL

About Harris Geospatial Solutions

Harris Geospatial is the world leader in image science software and supporting technologies. Our products have helped scientists explore space, see the human body in new ways, and understand the world around them. Today, our customers rely on our in-depth knowledge of advanced geospatial analytics, big data management technologies, and remotely sensed data, along with a highly turned process for applying deep learning to deliver value across a variety of industries.

To find out more about SARscape, ENVI, IDL and other Harris Geospatial Products, go to

Images and content reproduced with permission of NEXTANT Applications & Innovative Solutions.

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