Rome, 13 July 2022 – We live in a digital era. A significant portion of our individual and collective memories, creative expressions and recent history is digital. The volume of digital data in the world is increasing exponentially and new technologies, such as NFTs, are firing up the art world. In 2020 alone, 64.2 zettabytes of data were created: a 314 percent increase from 2015. 

Contrary to popular belief, digital data can be vulnerable. Specific skills and knowledge are required to ensure the continued accessibility of born-digital and digitized heritage. Growing volumes of content, as well as proprietary and changing technologies, has made this work more complex.

Tackling this issue, ICCROM – known worldwide for its pioneering research and capacity development in the field of heritage conservation – will launch the Sustaining Digital Heritage (SDH) programme: a new initiative to safeguard heritage in the digital domain, created in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV) and AVP, an information innovation firm based in the United States.

On Monday, 18 July 2022 at 15:00 CET (Rome time), the programme's virtual Launch Event will explain how Sustaining Digital Heritage will build capacities and foster networking across the culture sector and beyond. The event will also introduce an institutional self-scan, “the sustainability test,” and feature industry leaders, innovators and changemakers. 

Making knowledge and technology accessible

Spurred on by rapid technological changes that are often out of reach, digital divides are widening, preventing knowledge and information from being accessed by those who need it most. 

In order to prevent a digital dark age and the loss of cultural memory, ICCROM is pleased to launch this capacity development programme to provide tools, training and a cross-disciplinary network for sustaining heritage in the digital realm. The SDH initiative builds on the success of ICCROM’s SOIMA (Sound and Image Collections Conservation) Programme. 

Capturing the potential of heritage in the digital realm

The SDH programme is for anyone who wants to use digital tools for documenting and protecting cultural content, as well as making it accessible.

Whether creating 3D-laser scans, running a digital art collective or archiving social media, SDH’s tools and training will help creators and heritage professionals connect with end-users, add value to their content and garner greater institutional support for their work.

The SDH programme offers a holistic end-to-end approach and model for building sustainability into your work with digital heritage. It will help grow knowledge of the digital landscape and identify strategies for ensuring long-term preservation and access. 

"We all know that heritage-based digital data has grown exponentially and surpassed traditional boundaries between users and content creators, especially in the fields of contemporary art, heritage-conservation and creative industries," said ICCROM's Director-General, Webber Ndoro. "This programme will connect knowledge from these three areas and ensure that digital technologies are put to use in meeting the sustainable development goals."

The programme activities will support the following Sustainable Development Goals:

  • SDG 4 – Ensuring inclusive and accessible quality education
  • SDG 8 – Creating opportunities for decent work and sustainable economic growth
  • SDG 9 – Fostering innovation
  • SDG 13 – Digitizing place-specific knowledge and reducing the environmental impact of digital heritage to support climate action

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#SustainingDigitalHeritage #OurDigitalLives

ICCROM is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage. ICCROM aims at improving the quality of conservation practice as well as raising awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage. It serves the international community as represented by its Member States. ICCROM contributes to preserving cultural heritage in the world today and for the future through five main areas of activity: training, information, research, cooperation and advocacy.