A crucial international policy instrument enabling stricter protection of cultural heritage was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO in 1972. It lists natural and cultural heritage sites of exceptional importance which are therefore necessary to preserve. Another important policy for Europe was created in 2000, with the European Landscape Convention. It is used in several European countries as a legal framework for the protection of cultural landscapes . The state of Rhineland-Palatinate also foresaw the necessity of protecting and inventorying its cultural heritage, and developed a legal guideline within a country development program for an implementation of a statewide cultural landscape information system in 2008.
In an open dialogue between governing authorities and citizens, the intention of the project is an active cooperation of public and private actors. A cultural landscape information system called KuLIS was designed as a web platform, combining semantic wiki software with a geographic information system. Based on data sets from public administrations, the information about cultural assets can be extended and enhanced by interested participants.
The developed infrastructure facilitates local information accumulation through a crowdsourcing approach. This capability offers new possibilities for e-governance and open data developments. The collaborative approach allows governing authorities to manage and supervise official data, while public participation enables affordable information acquisition.
Gathered cultural heritage information can provide incentives for touristic valorisation of communities or concepts for strengthening regional identification. It can also influence political decisions in defining significant cultural regions worth of protecting from industrial influences. The presented cultural landscape information allows citizens to influence the statewide development of cultural landscapes in a democratic way.
Cultural landscapes consist of an extreme variety of features, with such variability stemming from their geographic as well as semantic characteristics. This fact presents a challenge for new developments using an aggregate system combined from distributed software modules. The presented system as a combination of current web tools combining semantic and spatial information in a public participation geoinformation system meets this challenge. Developing such an information system for cultural landscapes using exclusively open source tools is not only possible, but also enables the chance to use state of the art technologies for further development.