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Digital Platform for Thailand’s Natural and Cultural Heritage

Through the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC), a division of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Thailand has developed a digital platform tag as Navanurak aims to support the collection and conservation of cultural heritage in the nation.

Navanurak is a platform for the administration and transmission of knowledge about culture and biodiversity, according to Dr Thepchai Supnithi, Director of NECTEC Artificial Intelligence Research Group. He added that the platform enables users to preserve natural or cultural assets by adding descriptive text to the database along with multimedia files like images, videos, and audio recordings for each object.

NECTEC is creating a knowledge management tool for historic homebuilders and conservators through the Navanurak society and culture platform, fusing technology and innovation to actualize the Bio-Circular-Green Model (BCG) for the growth of the creative economy.

The platform will allow specialised professionals to gain comprehensive bodies of knowledge, expand opportunities for adapting traditional know-how to modern purposes, and upskill Thai conservation building craftsmanship toward high-quality heritage protection. The platform also aims to create a nationwide guild of heritage conservation professionals.

With this, the platform will support the preservation of the Satun Geopark, Thailand’s first UNESCO Global Geopark, which is in the south of Thailand and encompasses four districts of Satun Province: Thung Wa, Manang, La-Ngu, and Muang.

Satun Geopark is well known for its beautiful beach, limestone mountain ranges, caves, and network of islands that attract local and international tourists, in addition to being the site of Paleozoic Era marine fossils dating back 545 to 245 million years ago. It is also home to indigenous people who have a rich culture and local knowledge. Satun Geopark was designated a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2018 in recognition of its importance in geology, ecology, and culture.

NSTDA launched multiple projects to uncover biodiversity, local wisdom, and cultural heritage in Satun Geopark and use the information to promote conservation, education, and tourism to preserve Satun Geopark’s natural and cultural heritage. Extensive research has been carried out by research teams, and organisms and cultural heritage discovered because of the studies have been archived in Navanurak.

This initiative is part of the Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) initiative, which calls for the creation of a digital database of bioresources, cultural capital, and local wisdom to aid in conservation, restoration, and utilisation efforts to strengthen the local economy and tourism industry.

The platform provides access to a diverse set of data and sources on art and culture, traditional wisdom, and biodiversity, as well as spaces for organisations and the general public, to freely store and disseminate their information.

NAVANURAK supports a variety of data forms and has an Open Access data policy to maximise visitors’ abilities to learn, share, exchange, and use knowledge to create new things that benefit the economy, such as conservation-based tourism, job creation, income generation, and community-led sustainable development.

The knowledge of archaeological sites, historic buildings, and towns is critical to the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage sites. This information, however, remains limited and dispersed across various institutes and agencies, as well as stored in formats that pose challenges to public access.

By customising the Navanurak platform for knowledge management suited to the demands of conservation experts and for co-organizing conservation-related contests, such as a timber heritage conservation project competition, a traditional carpentry competition, among others.

It is anticipated that these activities will improve public awareness of conservation careers and expand professional capability in preparation for the soon-to-be-announced formation of Thailand’s first guild of heritage conservation artists.

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