22-28 May 2015 #759

Documenting loss

An app to collect information on status of damaged monuments
Stéphane Huët

The 25 April earthquake and the powerful aftershock on 12 May collectively damaged 490 monuments, 125 of which were completely destroyed.

The Department of Archaeology (DoA) has been surveying affected sites to see which monuments need the quickest reinforcement.

Photo: Stéphane Huët

Artist Joy Lynn Davis, known for her research on Nepal’s stolen sculptures, came up with the idea of mobilising volunteers to contribute to data collection.

Davis got in touch with Prabhas Pokharel of Kathmandu Living Labs who developed a mobile app called KLL Collect that lets users enter information such as name, location and condition of the monument onto a common database.

The app is enabled with geo-location and users can upload up to five pictures of damaged monuments. The inputs go to a database, accessible by DoA and UNESCO Nepal. “These are preliminary information that will help DoA know which experts are needed for the sites documented,” says Davis. The app can be downloaded on any smartphone (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).

So far more than 100 volunteers have participated in the training on the use of the app conducted by Davis. The artist explains the technical aspects of the app, and also gives advices to ensure that the most thorough information is entered.

Davis says another objective is to encourage users to enter information on heritage sites outside Kathmandu. “Much of the focus tends to be on heritage sites inside the valley, our message is no temple or stupa is too small or insignificant,” she says.

Suresh Shrestha, head of DoA’s World Heritage Section, says: “The use of KLL Collect by volunteers will help us save time.”

Shrestha also intends to train the staff at DoA to use the app. “This would ensure a better coordination in the data collection as all information will be sent to one database,” he adds.

Nipuna Shrestha, who looks after the department of culture at UNESCO Nepal, also believes that making KLL Collect accessible to larger number of people will ensure efficiency. “Municipalities and guthis are also involved in assessing the monuments,” she says. “It is better to centralise all these efforts towards one database.”

So far, KLL Collect’s database has received close to hundred entries. Davis expects this number to rise with new volunteers joining.

“We need more volunteers – preferably with backgrounds in engineering, history, cultural studies and who speak either Nepali or Newari,” she says.

Interested volunteers can contact 9818990583

Read also:

Monumental loss, Stéphane Huët

Mapping the aftermath, Ayesha Shakya

Lost and found in Kathmandu

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