The Project

The Risk Map of Cultural Heritage is a project promoted by the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (ICR) in line with a research project stemming from Brandi's notion of preventive restoration, and developing through Giovanni Urbani's reflections on programmed manitenance. The central idea upon the "Risk Map" is based on the development of systems and methods enabling maintenance and restoration programs for architectural, archaeological and historical-artistic items with regard to their respective conditions and the harsness of the environment where they are situated. The word "programming" is used in its literal meaning of obtaining useful information to predict, and thus to decide in advance, wich measures have to be taken most urgently, with regard to both the time necessary for execution, and to inherent expenses, in order to avoid losses and damage. This requirement is all the more urgent when we consider the major importance of Italian cultural heritage, as well as the lack of financial means available for its preservation and the resulting duty of using all available resources to their ulmost and overcoming a constant state of emergency. By the time the project is finished, new tools of knowledge and new methods of analysis will be available to the central and local administrations of cultural heritage, which help control and monitoring the condition of cultural heritage in order to manage and optimize conservation measures.

Pio Baldi
ICR, Project Director

Phases of execution

Phase 1:

Gathering and analysing information about the environmental harshness to which cultural items are subjected in order to draw up thematic maps of risk in Italy.

Thematic Maps of Environmental Danger Factors

Information about the environmental danger factors which may be harmful for cultural heritage are being gathered from existing data banks. Such information will be recorded on the computer-based "Geographical Information System" (GIS); three thematics maps concerning three different danger factors and their distribution on the Italian territory will be drawn: - static-structural danger (earth-quackes, hydro-geological risks, volcanism, etc.); - environmental air-danger (air pollution, climate, sea aerosol, etc.); - human danger (theft, hooliganism, tourist pressure, etc.).

Thematic Maps of Cultural Heritage

A data bank is also being realized, containing several information from bibliographic source about the distribution and consistency of cultural heritage at a municipal level. The maps of environmental danger will be connected to this data bank (interim map of heritage's value) in order to obtain information about areas which are potentially most exposed to risk factors.

Phase 2:

A survey, on two different levels, of the condition, and therefore of real vulnerability, of cultural items: firstly, mostly cataloguing tools will be used; secondly, monitoring in the field will be carried out with special equipment.

First Level Cataloguing

Trough its field work the ICR has developed a set of file-cards for the assessment of the condition of different cultural aims. Such cards are based on the standards developed by the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione (ICCD), though they have been adapted to suit the nature of conservation problems. The card-compiling is being undertaken in four sample areas, and in close contact with the local administrations of cultural heritage. The aim is to extend this kind of survey to the whole national territory. The data, gathered in different formats (alphanumerical, graphic, images), is recorded on magnetic and optical disks; an index of vulnerability is attached to each of the items examined, the numerical value showing the actual condition of the object.

Iconometric Model

A new system of picture taking and filing is used in cataloguing instead of more normal photographs; this system is called on "iconometric model" In the iconometric model photographs of the items are automatically brought to the desired scale and rectified, i.e. cleared of inevitable perspective distorsions. Indications, themes and notes can then be drawn on these images; measurements of distances and surface areas, as well as other information about condition, can also be obtained from them.

Second level cataloguing and monitoring

A more detailed survey is being carried out on some sites, chosen because of their environmental features. This survey is divided into four classes of analysis:

This work of cataloguing and monitoring is being undertaken in order to check the actual evolution of material decay in the environment where they are situated. This collected data will be used for an operative evaluation of theoretical information gathered through the tematic risk maps.

Phase 3:

A computer-based synthesis of quantitative data concerning the distribution and real vulnerability of items, and of the presence of danger factors. This is to be the final aim of the "Risk Map"


The tematic risk maps, along with the information obtained from in-the-field cataloguing and with the indexes of vulnerability, are stored in the GIS. In this manner different data can be gathered together and processed so that a final synthesis is obtained, expressing the risks each cultural item is exposed to, with regard to its vulnerability and to the harshness of the environment in which it is situated.

Tools and Technologies

Hardware and Software architecture

The hardware and software architecture consists of a main central system and four local systems. Each peripheral system consists of stations in a local network, communicating with the central server by national network. Information about the condition of cultural items gathered at the remote servers, are checked and then transmitted to the central system, where technicians can carry out different kinds of analysis on global data. Information concerning data identifying an item is transmitted to the Central System at the Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali, and stored in the accounting and administrative data bank; they are kept in a special dossier (electronic dossier, budget, register, etc.). Information concerning environmental danger, gathered at the central server, are transmitted to the remote servers according to their territorial competence.

Central and Remote Systems

All information converge at the, located at the ICR's Physics laboratory. This server is made up by workstations connected in a network. All research and analysis functions can be performed on this central data bank, containing all alphanumeric data concerning the first and second level cataloguing, cartographic data, images and graphics. The data resulting from the in-the-field cataloguing converges at the four remote servers, located at the local administrations of cultural heritage in Rome, Naples, Ravenna, and Turin . Each remote system is equipped with a server and eight PCs, connected in a LAN. The server works as a connection with the central server, while controlled data entry (acquisition and processing of images, photographs and drawings) can be performed from the different workstations. Each remote system collects, processes and manages the cataloguing data expressing the condition of the cultural items, in order to establish the priority of measures to be carried out on items placed in the territory of the local competence.


Being a programming tool, the "Risk Map" will be useful to the central bodies of Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali in order to address the financial flows at a national level, and to the single local administrations of cultural heritage in order to keep under observation the items they are responsible for and to attend to their maintenance. The "Risk Map" will be usefull for all local administrations with direct or indirect responsibility for cultural heritage (regional, provincial and municipal administrations). We consider the survey concentrated on four sites (Rome, Naples, Ravenna and Turin) as a first significant model, to be gradually extended at the whole network of all local administrations of cultural heritage.

Operative Structure

The project is being carried out by four consortia. Activities are co-ordinated and directed by the ICR's technical-scientific management, consisting of experts with different professional experience,

The Technical-Scientific Direction:

Pio Baldi, Project Director
Giorgio Accardo, Phisician
Giuseppe Basile, Historician of art
Andrea Bennici, Informatic
Alessandro Bianchi, Historician of art
Carlo Cacace, Informatic
Gisella Capponi, Architect
Giuseppina Fazio, Restorer
Angela Maria Ferroni, Archeologist
Clelia Giacobini, Biologist
Annamaria Giovagnoli, Chemist
Sergio Indrio, Architect
Clemente Marsicola, Historician of art
Alessandra Melucco Vaccaro, Archeologist
Costantino Meucci, Chemist
Annamaria Pandolfi, Architect
Roberto Rinaldi, Phisician
Italo Tiglie, Biologist
Giuseppina Vigliano, Chemist

The Technical-Executive Direction:

Andrea Belluni, Consorzio ATI-MARIS
Renzo Carlucci, Consorzio ARCAD
Giovanni Iorio Giannoli, Consorzio METIS
Danilo Pilo, Consorzio ABECA


The project was started in summer 1992 and is expected to be completed by the end of 1995.

Copyright © 1995 by I.C.R - E-Mail :

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