The following article appeared in the Oct. 30, 2015 edition of NCSHPO News, an e-news publication of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.
For the past two years, the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office (part of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs) has focused staff and resources on a major redevelopment of its on-line mapping portal, the Cultural and Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). Utilizing funds from the HPF Grant and from the Delaware Department of State, the Delaware SHPO hired GeoDecisions to upgrade the CHRIS to an easier, more flexible and cost-efficient system based on ESRI’s ArcGIS On-Line (AGOL).
The new CHRIS launched in February 2015, receiving many positive comments from users. Major benefits of the new system are the ability for consultants and agencies to map and submit survey forms online, the ability for in-house management and updating of data, improved management of user accounts to protect confidential information, a tool for creating public-oriented, thematic “story maps,” and the ability to deliver more extensive survey and National Register information.
This initiative includes ongoing efforts to digitize and upload survey data. In recent months, the Delaware SHPO joined several other state agencies participating in a new scanning program. Delaware Governor Jack Martel established a partnership with Specialisterne, a company that works with and secures employment for people on the autism spectrum, and Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) which employs such workers with skills that are ideal for technology projects. Such skills include focused concentration, attention to detail, an ability to recognize patterns and deviations in data, and thinking outside the box. The CAI employees are scanning thousands of inventory forms and photographs for CHRIS. One of the new tools of the system will allow staff to upload the newly scanned files from CAI to the historic properties’ points in bulk, which will vastly cut down on the time needed to accomplish this task. The Delaware SHPO is well on its way to its goal of providing 24/7 access to comprehensive information on Delaware’s historic properties.