The recent advances in the area of the information and communication technologies (ICT) have impacted humanity in many different and unexpected ways. As a result of this, these new technologies have been slowly, but steadily accepted as an integral part of our daily life.
The trend to incorporate the most modern ICT solutions in every human process can be characterized, above all other things, with its variable speed for the different application areas. In some fields, like education, medicine and industry, the emerging ICT technologies have already overtaken the old-fashioned methods and systems and now are a mandatory requirement for every new solution. Other specific areas are introducing the new technologies at a much slower rate. As the ICT area is a very specific one, the lack of experienced staff and the lack of enough funding to introduce the new equipment or systems are usually the reasons for the delayed introduction of the modern technologies. One of the problematic areas, which are falling behind with the technological introduction, is the area of the ecological, cultural and historical preservation. In order to catch-up on this, the European Union has just recently declared that 2018 will be the European Year of the Cultural heritage and a special focus will be placed on the use of the ICT for its preservation and popularisation.
The cross-border area between Romania and Bulgaria is known as one of the richest in both cultural and ecological points of view. The great number of ancient, medieval and recent historical locations along the Danube river have attracted over the years many visitors, famous persons and renowned scientists. The unique habitats, in this specific area, are home to many wildlife and vegetation species, some of which are endangered or even unique. As some of the locations are hard to reach, not regulary maintained or are with restricted access, the museums along the Danube river are serving as main source of information and a point for popularization of these interesting and unique areas.
The idea of the project “LIVE, INTERACTIVE and VIRTUAL Environments for the museums of the lower Danube cross-border area between Romania and Bulgaria – LIVE” is to show that the modern ICT technologies can be used for the wider popularisation and the attraction of more tourists in the museums and the CBC area. Four museums will be involved in the project as beneficiaries. They will provide the grounds for the pilot installations of several different ICT systems. These systems will serve both current and future generations and will provide them with a more modern way to obtain the knowledge held and stored in the museums. The outcomes of the pilot installations and the experience obtained from the use of the systems will serve as a starting point for the developing and the execution of the “Path of the Danube museums” Strategy, which will aim at the multiplication of the project results and the attraction of more tourist in the cross-border area.
Lead Partner: Lead Beneficiary (LB): University of Ruse Angel Kanchev (Bulgaria). University of Ruse is an autonomous state higher school that was accredited by the National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency for a six–year period with the grade – 9,28 out of 10. The University of Ruse is a full member of the European University Association, the Danube Rectors’ Conference, the Visegrad University Association and the Interuniversity Center – Dubrovnik. UR offers 49 Bachelor, 90 Master and 43 PhD programmes and has modern study halls and research laboratories with a total area of 67490 m2. The University of Ruse is presented in this project by several members of the Telecommunications Department. Their main research areas include IP networks, data, image and video processing, communication systems and processes, virtualization technologies, storage area networks, multimedia technologies and systems, wireless communications, web-based systems, social networks, mobile technologies, etc. The team has previously participated actively in several national and in several CBC, ERASMUS, MUNDUS and TEMPUS projects and have worked in Human Resources Development Operational Program projects. Team members have previous experience in the area of the autonomous aerial imaging platforms, the systems for 3D reconstruction of objects and the information systems in general.
Partners: Beneficiary 2 (B2): Rousse Regional Museum of History (Bulgaria). The Rousse Regional Museum of History conducts its cultural activities on the territory of the District of Rousse. It is established on January 1st, 1904, as a museum collection at the Boys’ High School. The museum fund contains over 150 000 pieces of cultural valuables. The museum develops its activity in relation to the preservation and exhibition of the movable cultural valuables, the tangible and intangible cultural heritage and research of the history and nature of Northeastern Bulgaria. Rousse Regional Museum of History has gained experience in participating in Cross-border Cooperation projects which have added value to both archaeological and ethnological research of the Cross-border region. It participated as a partner in the European funding projects “Venus on the Lower Danube” (2008) and “Together for a common future” (2009). A catalogue, an international travelling exhibition, ethnological research were realized. “The Bishop’s Residence from the Late Middle Ages – Archaeology, Education and Tourism”(2011-2012) and The Danube Limes in Northeastern Bulgaria”(2013-2014) projects were implemented by the Museum as a lead beneficiary, financed by American Research Center in Sofia and America for Bulgaria Foundation.
Beneficiary 3 (B3): Regional Historical Museum – Silistra (Bulgaria). The main objects of activity of the Regional Historical Museum in Silistra are the preservation, research and promotion of the cultural heritage in the region of Silistra. The Historical Мuseum in Silistra preserves valuable exhibits and collections mainly from the National Archaeological Reserve “Durostorum-Drustar-Silistra”. We aim to present the museums exhibits in attractive and modern ways.
Beneficiary 4 (B4): Lower Danube Museum Calarasi (Romania).Lower Danube Museum is a public institution of culture in the service of society and open to the public, which aims research, collecting cultural property, record, conserve, restore, as well as cultural heritage held through exhibitions, publications and any other forms of communication to the public.For over 60 years of existence the Museum proposes to visitors aspects of the cultural identity of different populations that lived on both sides of the Danube and the visitors have the opportunity to know the traditions of Romania, Bulgarians, Thracians, Tartars and other civilizations, habited in the Lower Danube region.
Beneficiary 5 (B5): Iron Gates Region Museum (Romania). The object of activity of the Iron Gates Region Museum is represented by the research, conservation and valorization of material and spiritual civilization proofs in the Iron Gates area and Mehedinti county, promotion and valorization of all values of universal material and spiritual creations values existing in the museum heritage, enriching and diversifying its permanent collections by their own researches, acquisitions or donations. Iron Gates Region Museum has got experience in managing cultural projects funded by the European Union and government funds: the project “CBC cultural eco and ethno interferences” financed under the Neighborhood Programme Romania – Serbia 2004 – 2006 having the period of implementation 2006 – 2007; “Danube – An European corridor” financed under the Neighborhood Program Romania – Serbia 2005, having the period of implementation period 2007-2008; Summer School – to rediscover the Roman life in Drobeta (National Cultural Fund Administration, 2009), and as a partner “The ethnographic iron” (funded by the National Cultural Fund Administration), “Danube CBC Itineraries” (Neighbourhood Programme Romania-Serbia 2005).
Programme outputs and results:
Programme outputs: The project is planned as a pilot initiative between the museums of the Lower Danube area and as such is aiming to achieve the development of a common environment for further cooperation, including the organization of additional events, the attraction of more museums to the guidelines of the strategy and the multiplication of the results for other institutions. Based on this we can highlight several aspects for the sustainable use of the project results and outcomes:
1. All of the planned for purchase specialized devices and services (in WP3 – WP8) will be used for the development of the integrated tourist products and more specifically for the development of several IT systems for entertainment and popularization of the museums. These systems and products (the hologram projectors, the kiosks, the photo-corners, etc.) will continue to operate and to attract tourists and visitors into the museums even after the completion of the project. As these systems will be available for free (or they will be included in the visitors ticket for no additional fee), they will be supported by the museums own budgets.
2. The experts (from all partners) will continue to support and to maintain the integrated systems and will provide constant updates to them. They will also periodically generate new content for these systems and will introduce this new content at specific points of time, which will cause the return of the previous visitors back to the museums to view this new content.
3. The 3D mapping events are planned as one time two-days long events. However, the developed content for these events will be provided to the beneficiaries of the project and thus they will be able to use this content for the future. Based on this content the museums and the lead beneficiary will be able to organize again mapping events (which will not be funded under this project, but might be funded by the local municipalities or by other project or funding sources). As the content will not be changed all visualisations of the project and the programme will be kept and thus the project will be disseminated and the programme popularized.
4. One of the outcomes of the project will be the development of the “Path of the Danube Museums” strategy. While this strategy will be written and followed by the museums, which are part of the project proposal, other institutions will be informed about it (at the round tables and at other events) with the aim to popularize the process of introduction of the modern ICT technologies in these museums and institutions as well. One of the ideas within this strategy is to make a common cross-border tourist textbook with short information and pictures. All visitors and tourists, which will acquire one such textbook (the first batch will be financed under the project), will have the opportunity to collect custom stamps from all locations presented in this textbook. For the duration of the project these locations will be under the control of the museums, which are partners within the project, but then after the finalization of the project this idea will be extended to other institutions as well.
5. Last, but not least one of the integrated tourist products will be a VR game. This game will continue to operate and will also be updated after the end of the project. This game will continue to be distributed after the finalization of the project and will attract additional tourists in the region, as it will provide information about the museums and other locations under their supervision.
The developed project web page will continue to be supported and maintained by the lead beneficiary and by all partners after the end of the project. All dissemination materials will also be distributed and presented in further events and at other meetings after the end of the project.
Programme results: The project will result in an increase of the tourist overnights in the CBC area by at least 2500 additional overnights. This will be achieved by the development and the integration of six new tourist products and services. These services will rely on the most modern ICT systems and solutions and will compensate the slow introduction of the modern technologies in the area of the preservation and the popularisation of the natural and the cultural heritage. We hope to provide to the mass public a complex solution for entertainment, which is both technologically advanced and provides interesting and educational experience. In this way we aim to bring back the people to the cultural institutions and the museums in the CBC zone.
Main activities: State of the art virtual reality cameras with LIVE streaming capabilities will be used in the museums and at other specific locations, which are managed by the four museums. These cameras will provide the capability for a constant video feed to everyone at a global scale and will allow them, with the help of VR glasses, to experience the atmosphere of the locations and the museums. The video feed of the cameras will be integrated in a specialized system, which will allow the users to access all locations with ease and will help the museums with the popularization of their activities and events, as these cameras will be also mobile. The system will be one of the six integrated tourist products, which will be provided as output of the implementation of the project and will allow the live content streaming in the most popular social medias, like FaceBook, YouTube, ect.
In order to improve the on-site experience for all visitors, the project aims at the development and integration of three INTERACTIVE systems. The first of them will consist of modern touch-screen terminals, which will provide the users with access to the various museum information systems. The second interactive system will be provided as a mobile application. It will allow the users to obtain various information on their devices by interacting with carefully placed QR codes or NFC tags. The last of the interactive systems will allow the visitors to see and experience various remote locations or distant artefacts and objects. This will be possible by the digitalization of these objects and their local presentation as 3D models using the modern holographic projection systems.
In order to attract more young people, a special game application will be developed and provided as standalone integrated product. This application will allow the users to experience the museums as VIRTUAL environments and will require from the players to answer questions or to solve entertaining puzzles. This will help the users advance in the game and they will also learn interesting facts about the lower Danube cross-border area. Special game contents will be unlocked if the locations and the museums are visited and the on-site QR codes or NFC tags are scanned.
Last, but not least, several training seminars, dissemination events and round tables are planned to take place during the implementation of the project. In order to attract more visitors short 3D mapping shows will be organized in Romania and Bulgaria. These shows will be part of two-day long events for the popularization of the results of the project and will represent the last (6th) of the integrated tourism products.
Start date: 08.12.2018, End date: 07.06.2020, Duration: 18 months.
479,655.05euro, out of which 407,706.78 euro ERDF. Target at the half of the implementation period: 75,596 euro for LB, 19,708 euro for B2, 16,423 euro for B3, 20,717 euro for B4 and 20,945 euro for B5.
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