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Monday, May 16 • 8:30am - 9:00am
(Sustainability) Preserving cultural heritage through the development of digital technologies and community engagment

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The continued threat and destruction of the world’s most precious cultural heritage in Syria has left the preservation community demanding greater and more innovative efforts to safeguard and accurately document tangible and intangible heritage worldwide, in any accessible method. This proclaimed crisis is not limited solely to the actions of ISIS; rather, risks associated with climate change, natural disasters, and tourism have each taken a toll on historical monuments worldwide. This paper will explore best practices in engaging local communities to use digital platforms that archive and publish open-sourced data and 3-D mapping photographs for global audiences. It takes a particular focus on women’s inclusion and empowerment to demonstrate the impact of engaging communities as a whole to increase margins of project participation, evolving societal gender roles, financial independence and women in leadership. Pulling from information and data collected from two case studies of Algeria and Morocco--which could be considered high risk areas—proven strategies for mitigating challenges associated with conservation and environmental risks (e.g. climate change), disaster risk reduction, sustainable practices and international collaboration with governments, NGOs and the private sector will be presented, analyzed and evaluated. Our findings conclude one of the most effective ways to address this ongoing crisis and urgency to preserve the world's cultural heritage must be through the development of sustainable solutions using Information Communication Technology (ICT). Furthermore, our research highlights education as a key factor in successfully engaging local communities, especially women; thus, ICT solutions are recommended to be paired with training workshops that boost interest within areas related to cultural preservation and long-term risk management. In both Morocco and Algeria, for instance, there is a strong correlation between residential proximity to historical monuments and high awareness of the intrinsic value their nation brings to the world. Ownership and responsibility are often felt, particularly among youth. Yet, often times knowledge of best practice in heritage management is not widely known, as governments continue to plan ineffective preservation solutions. As of 2015, seven of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites can be found in Algeria; yet many of the nation’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage has yet to be documented. This lack of available and accessible tools to foster community empowerment and grassroots initiatives that also include the female population is an opportunity that can no longer be ignored. Actively exploring ICT solutions that build on the passion of communities as a whole—including women—can ensure present and future generations remain connected to the history of their ancestors, even if disaster strikes.

avatar for Sarah E. Braun

Sarah E. Braun

Owner, SustainEdge Marketing, LLC
Sarah Braun helped develop and complete a Sustainable Tourism Toolkit originally for the UNESCO Tourism Programme at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. She was an instrumental part of the team that compiled real-time case studies for implementation of the toolkit by sites around the... Read More →

avatar for Jessica Kaisaris

Jessica Kaisaris

International Business Development, Octoly, Inc.
Jessica Kaisaris specializes in the sustainable business development of ICT projects, with a particular focus on human rights, across international borders. She is currently based in Paris, working with the French start-up, Octoly, to launch its innovative concept into new global... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 8:30am - 9:00am EDT
Room 516 AB