Digital Heritage as a catalyst for community engagement

Pavlos Chatzigrigoriou
Community engagement, Diversity, Education, Sustainability
Digital, Intangible, Tangible
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HERMeS (HERitage Management e System) is a Digital Heritage Collection of Historic Buildings. In 2015 HERMeS won the prestigious European Union CH – EUROPA NOSTRA Award. After that, HERMeS represented Greece in European Quality Conference(EIPA), was part of “Best in Heritage” event in Dubrovnik, was invited by European Commission in "Culture Forum" (2016), and finally it was presented as 'best practice' by the Council of Europe. HERMeS developer is Pavlos Chatzigrigoriou (

The recognition that European Heritage Prize – Europa Nostra Award gave to HERMeS, helped to 'open its wings and fly' to other Historic Cities even outside  Greece: Corfu, Samos, Gjirokaster, Ohrid, Tinos, Lesvos and more are applying HERMeS as a digital heritage tool. In these new applications we are researching on connecting Tangible and Intangible Heritage. In HERMeS case, this could be done connecting the Historic Buildings with stories, traditions, dances, soundscape, events, books, plays and more. The idea is to exploit HERMeS software in order to involve more citizens, educate them on their cultural heritage and link their stories with other cities that use HERMeS. Based on that idea, we are transforming the digital aspect of HERMeS to something 'haptic' that people can see and interact with. This is why we are using also signs on the most important historic buildings. With a sign, the owner feels that the value of the historic building is recognized by the community and at the same time the community sees and interacts with a number of historic buildings. In September 2018, aligned with the European Year of Cultural Heritage, an impressive event will take place in Hermoupolis based on HERMeS: The "Digital Heritage Days". During the event people will see, learn and interact with historic buildings, experiencing innovation on saving and promoting Cultural Heritage.

European Dimension

HERMeS aims on using innovative techniques to link tangible and intangible heritage. It starts with historic buildings and tells the stories of people and places. We found that place’s heritage stories are not that different around Europe.This is why we are applying now HERMeS in Gjirokaster (Albania) and Ohrid (FYROM), showing how buildings can ‘talk’ and communicate outside ‘borders’ and countries. At a long end, we are aiming to the development of sustainable cultural tourism, combining satisfaction of visitor experience and the preservation of local heritage. This way we are improving inhabitants’ quality of life, especially in the less well-known areas where there are authentic cultural experiences. Digital Cultural Heritage can be the precious catalyst to engage local community, but it needs to preserve the integrity of the provided information. Therefore HERMeS is first of all a scientific heritage tool, and then it is reused for digital applications to help inhabitants, schools, activists and visitors to understand the common values of European heritage and the links between different places, without loosing local identity. HERMeS is used on education (teachers use it's rich database), in youth applications (HERMeS 'talks' the common youth language of 'technology') and community engagement. In Greece, where economic crisis had a huge impact in European links, tools like HERMeS can play an essential role, emphasizing the common values and heritage that connects us all.

Legal body/representative

Syros Institute

Pavlos Chatzigrigoriou - Board Member

Description of the project

'Awarding one hundred (100) heritage building's owners with HERMeS Signs in Hermoupolis (Syros island)'.
In the proposed activity, 100 historic buildings will get a sign (see photo in linked folder) that they will install it in the front view of their building. The selection of buildings will be made using criteria that are already documented in HERMeS database, like the conservation state, the importance of its position, the historic value, and the interest of their owner. The aim is to recognize the efforts of the owners to preserve the shared heritage but also to engage local community in protecting and promoting the values of cultural heritage.  Every sign will have information (20 words) for the building and a QR code that will digitally connect  the building with other buildings. It will also have the European Heritage Days and the Europa Nostra - Creative Europe logo. This way the proposed action will vastly promote the contribution and the idea of common European Heritage.

Legacy of the project

In October 2018, aligned with the European Year of Cultural Heritage, an impressive event will take place in Hermoupolis based on HERMeS: The "Digital Heritage Days". In that event we wish to present a demo (preview) of the 100 signs in the city and ask owners to apply for a sign. The 100 signs will be a first step to inform local people and visitors. With an open API every year new applications can be developed (games, tours, edu) making this action a valuable legacy for the community heritage.

Budget breakdown

1.Producing and printing: 55,00 euro / sign (high quality plexiglas)
2. Installing signs (high quality materials and installation): 20,00 euro / sign
3. VAT 24%
Total (per sign) = 93,00 euro (incl. VAT)
Total for 100 signs = 9.300,00 euro**
(*Designing (est.10 euro + VAT / sign ) will be provided by Syros Institute personnel and it is not requested for funding)
** 100 signs is a calculation (in total there are 1.290 historic buildings) but depending on funding availability we could sign less.

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