‘ichLinks’, an ICH Information Platform in the Asia-Pacific Region, Began in Earnest

ich lLinks logo © ICHCAP

The project to implement ‘ichLinks,’ a digital platform covering information on ICH in the Asia-Pacific region, has begun in earnest. Seven countries—Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, India, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Fiji—have been selected as the first participating countries of the project. The platform is intended for sharing and using information resources among different countries.

On 15 July, ICHCAP (Director-General Gi Hyung Keum) announced that ICHCAP would start the ichLinks platform project. The platform name, ‘ichLinks,’ is a combination of the words ‘ich’ (intangible cultural heritage) and ‘links.’

From September 2019 to April 2020, ICHCAP conducted a feasibility study of the platform with the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute commissioned to undertake the overall research. Based on the results, ICHCAP has identified the current status of major ICH organizations in the region and selected the first participating countries that have extensive data on ICH. The countries are the ones listed previously. In addition to the study, ICHCAP conducted a survey asking about intentions to participate in the project, which received positive responses from twenty-one countries in the Asia-Pacific region. ICHCAP plans to expand participating countries every year.

The ichLinks platform was designed to provide integrated and sustainable services through the sharing and use of information held by Member States as well as ICH data and contents that ICHCAP has accumulated for years since its establishment in 2011. Based on such data, ichLinks is intended to enable the sharing of general information about ICH, including elements, academic materials, stakeholders, festivals, and events, thus ensuring that information is systematically connected through metadata management to create added value both online and offline through content curation.

This year, ICHCAP will mostly develop plans for successful collaborative models with partner organizations in the selected countries and proceed with platform development. From next year, it will launch a coordinating council with the countries, jointly organize contents in the platform, and conduct offline programs based on such contents. By 2023, ICHCAP intends to advance the system, expand participating countries to twenty countries, and establish a network of active online and offline operations of the platform.

As we prepare for the post coronavirus era, there is an increasing need for more efficient and proactive use of the digital environment. ICHCAP has been co-organizing an ICH Webinar Series with UNESCO Office in Bangkok since 18 June 2020. The series, featuring discussions and presentations, is being conducted under the overarching subject of ‘ICH as a source of survival and creativity in the time of COVID-19.’ Experts from Bangladesh, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, China, and India have attended. The ichLinks platform is expected to serve as a window of vibrant communication among countries and people and the exchange of information in connection with webinars and virtual meetings.

The ichLinks platform is also in line with the Digital New Deal initiative and the Data Dam project recently announced by the government, so it is expected to contribute to domestic and global efforts to invigorate the digital economy and create jobs. By implementing a systematic archive of ICH contents in the Asia-Pacific region through ichLinks, ICHCAP expects to see various cooperative effects, such as: expanding the knowledge base through international cooperation; encouraging the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; supporting cultural diversity; promoting ICH globally and organizing related events, and building information resources and partnering with the tourism industry.

ICHCAP Director-General Gi Hyung Keum said, “It is the first step of the long-term project for collecting and using ICH contents of each country. ICHCAP has conducted various important projects for the last decade, but we have especially high expectations for this project as it will provide the grounds for sharing ICH contents with voluntary participation of Member States.”

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