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IoT and Its Impact on Cultural Heritage

Cygnet Infotech

Heritage and Culture are an integral part of any country, not only it represents the values and traditions of the people belonging to the culture, it also adds to the economic growth of an economy. Many countries like Greece, India and Saudi Arabia have a strong contribution of tourism towards their GDP. People from across the globe visit these places to witness the culture and visit the cultural heritage sites of such countries.

For instance, the annual contribution of Tourism Industry of India in the year of 2016 was $220 Billion (approximately 9%). Macca Medina, that has a high number of foreign visitors during the hajj period generates a revenue of approximately $10 Billion only during that period. Following the similar trend, Greece recently started promoting Religious Tourism and had seen a significant growth in the number of visitors. The number of visitors in the year of 2015 were 26.5 million which increased to approximately 30 Million in the year of 2016.

While the industry is booming in leaps and bounds, the countries and the states are failing to preserve the Heritage sites. UNESCO has already listed 54 such sites from across the globe that face severe threat of damage and demolition. To save the sites from being damaged, Technology can serve the best.

Instead of relying on Human resources that are not capable of 24/7 monitoring, it is feasible to rely on technology that can make the heritage site smart and can self-raise alerts to the concerned authorities. The technology that fits right in this description is IoT.

IoT- the acronym of Internet of Things is the technology that can convert anything into a smart object. The basic definition of IoT is connecting any object with Internet to exchange data using electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity.

To better understand how IoT can turn a Heritage Site into a Smart Heritage Site and what are the benefits of using IoT as a tech enabler, below is the real life case taken of Taj Mahal and its problem. We have presented a detailed idea as to how IoT can transform a site into a heritage site and what will be the impact of IoT:

Taj Mahal, a UNESCO world heritage site based in Agra city of India is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Taj Mahal is a Heritage site and an architectural masterpiece that attracts tourists as well as the architects from all across the world. Due to Taj Mahal, Agra has been a tourist attraction point and is ranked 4th in terms of highest number of Foreign Visitors in India.

Recently, it was found that the white marble monument is losing its sheen and is gaining a Yellow Tinge. Not only that, there are many other threats that might damage the Heritage. Let’s understand how the whole problem was discovered and after the investigation was made, what were the remedial steps taken to overcome the situation:

Problem Discovery:

The detection of the yellow tinge is the most surprising part of this whole case. It was not any government body or the concerned authority that raised this concern, it was a public interest attorney named M.C. Mehta who observed that the White Marble monument is turning Yellow when he visited the Taj first time in 1984. He then filed an environmental case in the Supreme Court of India.


To understand the reason behind the problem, a joint investigation was undertaken by IIT-Kanpur, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin. They revealed in their report that the dust and carbon produced from the large-scale municipal solid waste burning is turning the Taj Mahal’s white marble yellow. Also, it was found that due to the high pollution in the river of Yamuna, the Sal wood used as the foundation of the Taj is not receiving enough moisture and is losing its structural stability as there were cracks found in the wood.

Remedies Taken:

To protect Taj Mahal, the central government formed an institute named NEERI to clear the air of the Agra. For that, an industry free zone area was set named as the “Taj Trapezium” which included towns of Agra, Mathura, Bharatpur and Firozabad. More than 2000 Industries were transferred from the area. But, the damage done has no cure. The monument will never shine as white as it was before.

Now if the heritage was under the IoT enabled sensors and preventive management Systems, this would have been the scenario:

Problem Discovery:

If Taj Mahal was a protected by the standard parameter sensors like the Vibration sensor, Pressure Sensor and Temperature Sensor along with the color detectors and image recognition system, to monitor the number of people in the premise, the discovery in the change in the color of the Taj Mahal would have been in near real time. Also, there are special sensors available now that can detect the xylophages to protect the monument from losing its structural stability due to the decay of wood.


To convince the Supreme Government to carry out an investigation, M.C. Mehta had to spend almost a decade. He started fighting his case in 1984, and due to the lack of the substantial data, he was able to convince the court in 1993. If Taj Mahal was a Smart Heritage site, the sensors would have alerted the concerned authorities and they could have had prevented the whole scene right before it began.

Also, it was found that due to the high number of visitors in the premise at the same time, there was an increase in the humidity and the grease in the hands that visitors carried due to the pollution also resulted in the change of the color of the monument. With smart heat sensors, authorities would have been able to derive a safe number of visitors inside the premise at one time.

Remedies Taken:

Where government had to take a harsh step to Shut down more than 212 industries on immediate basis and had to order more than 2000 industries to transfer to other location out of the Taj Trapezium, the IoT would have provided accurate predictions regarding the damage and government might have had sufficient time to act on the situation without hampering the Industrial Growth of the area.

But, rather than placing our bets on assumptions, we have also designed following technology model that can make Taj Mahal, a Smart Heritage Site:

Technology Model:

To convert Taj into a Smart Heritage site, following Tech Stack can be employed:

Indoor Sensors:

  • Heat Sensors- To detect people inside the premise
  • Vibration Sensors- To detect the stability disruptors
  • Xylophage Detectors- To detect the insects that feeds on wood

Outdoor Sensor:

  • Temperature Sensors- to keep a check on the temperature
  • Air pollution Sensors- to keep a check on the air quality
  • Data Cleaning System- to clean data and process data gathered from the sensors in a consumable format
  • IoT Development Kit- To read the data collected and set ceilings for alerts
  • Cloud based Data base- To store the data generated
  • Mobile Application- to access the processed data

Heritage IoT

2 Major Benefits to the NGOs and the Government Bodies of Converting a Heritage Site into a Smart Heritage Site (using IoT):

Heritage can be in any form; it can be a picture like Mona Lisa or a document like the Declaration of the Independence, it can also be a statue like a statue of liberty, or a wall like the great wall of China. Each Heritage is different and hence each heritage site will be different when it comes to converting them into a Smart Heritage Site. But, if preservers choose IoT as the technology enabler, following two will be the certain benefactors irrespective of the shape, size or form of heritage:


Not only buildings, but preserving pictures, personal relics, letters and documents is a challenging task. To protect the heritage from getting damaged, large amount of money, human resource and technology is employed.

The best thing about employing IoT is it has the potential to turn anything smart. When everything gets connected with the Internet, it is easy to leverage technology as the preserver removing the pressure of monitoring from Human resources that are also prone to errors.


Preservation of a Heritage site is a costly job, the cost of archeology and the restoration is sky scrapping. To avoid fatal damages, the trusts or organizations preserving the site needs high amount of liquidity. But, it is a tough task to convince the fund provider only on the talks, this is where IoT comes in.

With the data and alerts generated from the prevention management system, site managers can provide substantial data to the fund provider for the budget that they require. Also, with near real-time updates available, managers can also restrict the budget at least possible cost and can also avoid fatal situations raised due to human errors.


The assumptions and the technology model are based on the understanding and assumptions of the IoT experts of Cygnet.

Cygnet Infotech

Cygnet Infotech is a CMMi level 3 and is ISO 27001:2013 and ISO 9001:2008 certified, 18 year old global technology provider enabling ISVs & enterprises through emerging technology, software engineering, technology consulting, SAP Implementation, advisory & maintenance services. It’s proven 18-year track record boasts of successfully delivered 1400+ valuable software solutions to its diverse clientele across the globe using a global delivery model.

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