Meet a #WSIS Prize Champion: PlacesToGo

PlacesToGo was a 2016 WSIS Prize Champion for Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content. Natalia Ovsyako told ITU News about the project and explained how World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) participants are supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through their projects.

wsis blogWith primeval forests, a range of summer and winter activities and a hearty national cuisine, Belarus is a great place for tourists looking for a unique holiday.

In 2014, 137,000 international tourists arrived in Belarus to enjoy our diverse national culture, and with so much to see and do we developed PlacesToGo, a student-led project designed to attract tourists to the unusual and peaceful places of Belarus.

e-Tourism in Belarus

PlacesToGo efficiently utilizes technology to promote tourist sites within the region. A regional leader in information and communication technologies (ICTs), Belarus was ranked at number 36 in ITU’s global ICT Development Index in 2015, climbing 14 places since the previous year. Yet, only 52% of the population has Internet access.

With the support of National Tourism Agency and Travel Agency Viapol, we helped to develop “Belarus through the eyes of the students of the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus“. The webpage takes users through some of the cultural activities on offer throughout the country, from The City of Brest to Mir-Nesvizh.

IT training

PlacesToGo also teaches IT technology skills to support digital literacy nationwide. The project is a training programme where future specialists in information resources management can acquire competences in several fields, including: marketing; website and application developing; capacity building and networking; corporative ethics; and communication and translation.

Our next step is to integrate the project into the educational system and make it a part of a curriculum, by training educators from both profit and non-profit educational bodies and to monitor its implementation process. This is a leading project whose multipurpose nature, with a diverse range of components, can be easily replicated in other regions.

WSIS Forum

The WSIS Forum is an important ongoing process towards bridging the digital divide. At WSIS 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus, voiced the country’s fundamental approach to the implementation of ICTs.

Through PlacesToGo, the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus aims to:

  • Broaden its project visibility to improve SDG literacy.
  • Establish a tri-level network between government, business and academia.
  • Increase high-skilled specialists’ education and training.

Participating in the WSIS Forum also helps to reinforce the knowledge sharing necessary to undertake steps towards advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Lessons learned

While working on this project we recognized that in order to eliminate illiteracy with the use of ICTs we need help from the global community. Thus we invite all present and future WSIS stakeholders to join forces in helping advance the SDGs through the use of ICTs. Project by project, partnership by partnership, through the WSIS Forum, or other local, national and regional gatherings, we must reach out to each other and make the best use of these incredible and life-changing new technologies. We should also use the momentum of the newly established SDGs and work passionately towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This year we have achieved high recognition as a laureate of the WSIS Prize Champions award and this accomplishment has been widely appreciated in our home country. We will continue to contribute actively to the WSIS Process and, while promoting WSIS Stocktaking as the unique global platform for sharing best practices in the ICT field, we will submit this and other projects for the WSIS Prizes 2017 contest.

Natalia Ovsyanko

wsis authorNatalia Ovsyanko, the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus.

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