As the winter 2021 semester comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the unique journey I have taken to get to this point. It’s not everyday you’re offered a position to assist in creating a survey, while far fewer (I would argue a handful across the world) get to do so for a survey geared towards the owners of ‘old’ barns. It’s been fantastic to see the Ontario Barn Preservation (OBP) survey grow into what it is today. The team has reached a point where a short-form version of the survey is almost ready for others to test out and provide comments. Things to do include, but are not limited to, finalizing the language surrounding the privacy agreement, creating instructional videos, and ensuring the visual aides throughout the survey are of the best quality.
Looking ahead, the concept of using the data collected through the OBP survey program will truly be revolutionary. The survey will provide us with the necessary data to have a living database that reflects the many characteristics of old barns across Ontario; from their location to their structural composition. Having this repository will open many doors and will contribute to our understanding of barns throughout the province and how they have shaped history and changed over time. When discussing the future database in our most recent weekly meeting, we shared a laugh thinking about the possibility of being able to print 3-D miniature versions of our documented barns. As funny as that moment may have been, the survey program means this reality is not too far off. The data collected through the OBP survey is going to allow the organization to achieve a range of possibilities.
Over the past decade there have been many headlines about the rising importance of collecting and using data; from being hailed as the new ‘oil’ to it driving decision making throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic. The versatility is endless and, even though the word data is likely to bring about conversations surrounding Amazon or Microsoft, the fact of the matter is data is not exclusive to Fortune 500 companies. It can be used by all organizations, big and small, and can serve a variety of purposes. This brings us back full circle to the OBP survey, which will provide us the data needed to help preserve barns across Ontario for generations to come.