It was in 2003 that I first met Ben Kacyra in Orinda after a mutual friend realized we had eerily similar ideas about the world. I was in the 3rd year of my PhD at the University of California at Berkeley where my research interests were focused on the use of 3D and imaging technologies for creating virtual places of sufficient quality and depth that they would be of use to researchers, academics and heritage professionals. I sat down with Ben and he told me his vision for an unnamed philanthropic venture that was of great interest to me. We continued to talk that summer about this “ark” of digital data and somewhere out of this came what was to be known as “CyArk”. I collaborated with Ben over 2 years - with many of the initial projects in the archive (Tambo Colorado, Chavin de Huantar and Tikal) coming from my field work.
In 2006 I found my way to the technology start-up world, pursuing a vision for not only capturing the world in 3D but making this data truly useful. With Anthony Fassero, I co-founded earthmine, a 3D mapping startup that captured precise 3D and image data of every street in a city, metropolitan area or even country. Over 6 years we mapped hundreds of cities across the world with the solution being used by a myriad of customers to manage their assets. earthmine became part of Nokia in 2012 and we had a similar mission with a new focus - to map millions of kilometers of roadway to pave the way for self-driving vehicles - mapping every lane marking, street sign, curb and relevant detail that vehicles may need to autonomously navigate the complex road environment.
Then in late 2016 I found my way back to CyArk - and found many things had changed. There were now hundreds of sites captured across all 7 continents. But the most exciting thing - there were now real possibilities to work with the data and share it with others in powerful ways. It is unlocking this value in the data that truly excites me. My interests have not changed throughout my career. Capturing data continues to outpace the ability to make sense of it and make it truly useful - and it is this untapped potential that CyArk has that I would like to explore. Making this data open to others for research and knowledge building, transforming it and making it useful in solving pressing conservation and preservation issues at sites, and presenting it in powerful and informative ways to share the wonder of these places and inspire.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Ben Kacyra for his inspiration, vision and dedication to this cause. Ben is not disappearing into the ether - he and Barbara will continue to be available to CyArk in its endeavors and both will continue to serve on the Board of Directors. Importantly, they will now have additional time to devote to the affairs of the Kacyra Family Foundation. I look forward to sharing with them the adventures and fruits of our endeavors at CyArk. It’s been 14 years since the organization's inception but somehow it feels like the very beginning of the journey.
Chairman and CEO