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Using Computer Networks to Improve Environmental Monitoring at the Museum

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Controlling temperature and humidity levels within the museum is crucial in maintaining the well being and preservation of artefacts.

Relative humidity is generally maintained at 50-55%, as levels higher than this are often accompanied by fungal and bacterial action and will accelerate the corrosion of metals. Moisture levels in the air need to be stable, as organic materials are damaged by fluctuating conditions and in extreme cases may crack and warp.

Ambient temperatures in the museum are maintained at 18-22 ° C as high temperatures accelerate the deterioration of artefacts.

In 2001 the EnviroMON computer system was installed in Materials Conservation and set up to monitor the environmental conditions in the Australian Museum . The monitoring package was developed by NVSI, a company of systems integrators.

Small Ethernet-compatible monitoring devices placed in exhibition spaces and storage areas transfer information through the Museum's Intranet. The monitoring devices are compact and low powered and use existing computer cabling. Currently, we are using the modules for humidity and temperature monitoring. The system can be expanded to enable data to be sent from other modules such as light and water detectors.

The data is exported fortnightly and graphs of each monitored area are produced. Environmental conditions can be checked at any time on the central computer in Materials Conservation. It is also possible to log-in to a secure web page from anywhere on the globe to check the conditions.

The EnviroMON system eliminates time spent on downloading information from data loggers and changing charts from themohygrographs.

Alarm parameters are set for each individual sensor, so when the readings are outside a specified range, the system registers an alarm. Notification of a potentially hazardous event can be automatically sent by email, SMS or a recorded message. The system gives immediate warning of potential disasters.