“We are explorers. Since the beginning, we have searched the land, sea, and stars. Through curiosity and discovery, we begin to understand the world around us. Few have the honor of unraveling the mysteries of our past. Fewer still, the courage to shape our future. An evolution is taking place — our world is changing faster than ever before. Through living data, we are unlocking the human potential to understand our universe in new ways, and are forging ahead toward the new data frontier.”

— Introduction to the first annual Ptolemy Data Science Award

Seagate's Ptolemy Data Science AwardSeagate is proud to introduce a new award that celebrates organizations and individuals that use data to benefit humanity: the Ptolemy Data Science Award.

The first annual Ptolemy Data Science Award has been presented to CyArk, an international non-profit organization that works to digitally preserve important world cultural-heritage sites. They are pioneering new ways of using data to safeguard and explore human civilization.

In its 15-year history, CyArk has digitally captured hundreds of historic monuments and sites, including Pompeii, Babylon, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Jerash in Jordan, the ancient temple of Wat Phra Si San Phet in Thailand, Mount Rushmore, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Titanic, the Sydney Opera House and the Tower of London. CyArk’s team uses LIDAR 3D laser-scanning equipment, along with video and photos from drones and ground cameras to create highly detailed 3D models. Data from those models can later be used by architects or conservators and shared with the general public—most recently through virtual reality (VR) gear.

Elizabeth Lee, vice president of programs and development at CyArk, accepted the award. Lee said CyArk is “thrilled” to be the first recipient of the Ptolemy Data Science Award. “Seagate has been a great partner and we’re grateful for their support,” she said. “I think we would make Ptolemy proud with the work we’re doing today.”

Elizabeth Lee, VP of Programs, CyArk

How to capture billions of data points — and make them useful and accessible

When our team goes into the field they’re capturing millions and billions of individual data points,” Lee noted, “and all of that goes into forming this one, cohesive 3D surface model of the site. Using that 3D model, we’re able to extract a number of products that help the conservators and the architects do their work in the field.”

“We hope that we can be a resource for this information — maybe go back to some of these places over time as they change — so that we can really be the definitive source of data around cultural heritage,” said Lee, describing CyArk’s mission. “Not just for research, but for any member of the public that might want to learn about a new culture or a foreign place, and get access to that right at their fingertips.”

“For us, it’s not just about gathering all this data. It’s also about making it available, securing it, and bringing it to life,” she explained. “By making this data available online and through virtual tourism, we’re touching millions of people who might not ever visit these historically significant places.”

Capturing data points with LIDAR

Ptolemy — a pioneer in collecting and analyzing data

Seagate’s award is named for Ptolemy, also known as Claudius Ptolemaeus, a mathematician, astronomer and geographer who lived circa AD 100 to 170 in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, wrote his works in Koine Greek, and held Roman citizenship.

More and more data is created and explored every year — so much so that data science is in a state of constant evolution. Technologically, the world has reached a paradigm shift as significant as the Industrial Revolution. So Seagate has created the annual Ptolemy Data Science Award to recognize groundbreaking work in data science that changes lives for the better.

“Ptolemy was a pioneer in collecting and analyzing data. He created a model for predicting the positions of the planets based on centuries of observational data, and his methods had a huge influence on future generations of scientists,” said Jeff Fochtman, vice president of marketing at Seagate. “With this award, we want to celebrate those people or organizations that are doing incredible things in data science to improve the human condition. CyArk’s work aligns perfectly with the spirit of this award and with Seagate’s brand.”

Correlating 3D digital inputs

Honoring impact, exploration and scientific advancement

Seagate evaluates candidates for the Ptolemy Data Science Award using several important criteria: social impact (which describes the nature and durability of the project’s positive impact on human lives); creative exploration (new and innovative ways the project uses data); and scientific advancement (the introduction of scalable tools or methods that advance the state of the art in data handling).

Learn more about CyArk in the video below, and learn about the Ptolemy Data Science Award, including how to submit nominations for consideration for next year’s award, here.

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