In April 2003, a paper was presented to Computer Applications in Archaeology (Vienna) outlining the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in analysing human risk to shipwrecks in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. Human activities impacting on the stability of shipwrecks were determined. A model of analysing and evaluating the level of potential risk to shipwrecks in the study area was then established.
The GIS section of this research was conducted using ArcView 3.2. Scripts and programs were created using Avenue for ArcView 3.2 to simplify the analysis. The programs created allowed risks to be added, removed, maximised and minimised. This study was being conducted for Heritage Victoria, a Government agency responsible for managing and maintaining heritage sites, including shipwrecks. Heritage Victoria uses MapInfo Professional as their primary GIS program. Problems with programs written for the analysis were immediately encountered with GIS software compatibility problems between ArcView 3.2 and MapInfo Professional. These were further heightened by the release of ArcView 8.0 at the conclusion of the research. This program replaced many of the GIS software programs being used by government agencies within Australia and made scripts and programs written for ArcView 3.2 obsolete.
In addition to software problems, lack of government funding made the implementation of a GIS system analysing risk to shipwrecks difficult. As shipwrecks are not as noticeable as a historical building, their importance as part of the historical record needs more justification to the government and public. The problems encountered and suggested solutions will be discussed as a further paper to be presented to Workshop 10 on Archaeology and Computers, Cultural Heritage and New Technologies.