A unique Cultural Mapping project, undertaken by online encyclopedic body Sahapedia, has won the Social Media for Empowerment Award (SM4E) 2017 for its innovative use of digital media to empower people and local communities.
This is the fourth edition of the award given by the New Delhi-based Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), a not-for- profit social enterprise that empowers people “at the edge of information”, including marginalised and underserved communities.
“This award is a validation of Sahapedia’s online presence. For an organisation that curates most of its content online, this is an important achievement, especially considering we were the only organisation working in the heritage and culture sector to be shortlisted and awarded,” said Lakshmy Venkatesh, Project Coordinator, Outreach, Sahapedia.
The Cultural Mapping Project has documented over 150 sites of cultural importance in Kerala’s island towns of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry through a geo-tagged interactive map. The digital project, executed with the assistance of local communities, aims to be a resource to access information on the extraordinarily rich cultural landscape of the area.
Neha Paliwal, Director, Projects, Sahapedia, said the map is not just intended for visitors from outside but also for locals who may want to record experiences and perspectives of their hometown for future generations.
The 150 sites in the map are further divided into categories such as Cultural Centres, Places of Worship, Lifestyle, Public Spaces, Public Institutions, and Heritage Sites.
A website of the digital heritage project was launched in collaboration with the third edition of the international contemporary art festival, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, in December 2016. After Kochi, Sahapedia now plans to extend the cultural mapping to other places, including Jaipur, New Delhi, Agra, and Gwalior.
The Sahapedia project, awarded under the Communication, Advocacy and Development Activism category, shared the honour with two other organisations. The SM4E awards in eight categories, with 16 winners in total, were selected by a jury panel comprising eminent experts from the private and public sectors, industries and the academia.
The awards were given last Saturday at a gala event at the India Habitat Centre. “It was a lovely day-long event where we got to connect and share experiences with our co-nominees, all amazing organisations that are doing some very inspiring work. We’re grateful to DEF for giving us this encouraging boost!” said Lakshmy Venkatesh, Project Coordinator, Outreach, Sahapedia.
DEF identifies and honours innovations and best practices in the field of ICT for Development (ICTD) across all digital media and has successfully created a knowledge hub and database of more than
5,000 such innovations across India and South Asian countries of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Afghanistan.
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