ALPAGE Project

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ALPAGE Project

Wednesday 8 November 2006, by Romain Raveaux

ALPAGE stands for Diachronic analysis of Parisian urban space: GEomatic approach. (The french acronyme : AnaLyse diachronique de l’espace urbain PArisien : approche GEomatique).

1 - Scientific background and objectives

This project aims at implementing mutualized working tools for both ICT-HSS communities, allowing to develop research relating to Parisian urban space, namely, PRAI software (Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence) adapted to ancient cadastral maps, and a GIS (Geographical Information System) including cadastral and historical layers. It is a new approach to the urban environment, truly integrating the spatial dimension, which could implemented thanks to the contributions of recent disciplines such as computer vision, geomatic and archeogeography.

The choice of Paris is explained both by the interest that the French capital city inspires in the scientific communities and above all by the extraordinary documentary potential: historical documents indeed exist, yet they were insufficiently utilized up to this point due to the lack of appropriate tools. The GIS, which allows to start from the semantic data in order to consequently consider the spatial dimension of the objects, also allows to consider urban space as a source, from which one can generate a historical discourse, having at the same time political, pedagogic and scientific implications. The political aspect consists of contributing to the management of the Parisian patrimony, allowing the public services in charge of the management operations to better integrate the patrimonial dimension of the examined projects. From a pedagogic perspective, this tool will be used as an aid to teaching in the concerned universities and schools. In the long run, we expect to ensure a broader diffusion of this tool via the internet, thanks to flexible and adapted formats (SVG). Having in its origins the will to develop the interdisciplinarity within the HSS and to set up the scientific synergies ICT/HSS, the objectives are numerous:
- To build innovative pattern recognition tools adapted to the ancient cadastral maps
- To produce inventories of Parisian urban space according to a variable scale
- To integrate the geographical and physical dimension in the societies/environments relations
- To use explanatory models in order to explain the geographical distribution of objects
- To analyze the morphology of lots/parcels at the level of the city.

2 - Description of the Project, Methodology

This project is based on a collaboration between four research laboratories (three in HSS and one in ICT).
-  LAMOP from the Paris 1 University, carrying the project, which is composed of historians and medievist archeologs that are specialists of Paris.
-  -ArcScan form Paris 10 University, grouping geomaticians that are able to deal with GIS in Archeology, Archeologs, Art historians that are Paris specialized
-  - L3i form La Rochelle University, grouping computer sciences researchers, specialized in pattern recognition and vectorization.
-  The project consists in implementing georeferenced cadastral layers, from which layers of a historical type could be created, in particular the historical topography and the medieval and modern administrative districts. The utilized source maps correspond to the land register according to small blocks found in the Vasserot Atlas (1810-1836) for the oldest twelve districts, the aim being to cover the Parisian space that is delimited by the general farmers wall at least.

The data processing specialists from La Rochelle, who will benefit for that reason from a position of engineer of studies during the three years of the project, and geomaticians of OTELO who will recruit an engineer of studies, qualified in geomatic, remunerated during three years, will work together to set up the cadastral layers: they will have to georeference, assemble and vectorize the various raster images issuing form the source maps. In parallel, the historians—primarily medievalists for now—will work together with the geomaticians to set up the conceptual model of data and the historical layers. This work will take into account the experiences that have ever been lead, especially at the Cultural Ministry (CNAU : National Urban Archeological Center)

3 - Expected Results

At the end of the 3 years, the goals are to dispose of:

- innovative software tools for the vectorization and pattern recognition, in the context of ancient cadastral documents. The set of the algorithms developed in this context of co-operation between the communities ICT and HSS will constitute a reusable basis for equivalent projectsto the one which is presented now.
- a first GIS containing the historical information integrated according to the fields of specialization of the concerned historians. It will allow the realization of these data, put at the disposal of all the participants so that they can be re-used for other future research. It is thus a question of solidifying robust information likely to become a reusable material by all, according to specific problems.

A conference, organized in La Rochelle at the end of the project, will make it possible to concretely formalize methodologies and the acquirements of the project.

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