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Why is this work relevant for Media?

Backup Ukraine uses cutting edge mobile technology to allow every citizen of Ukraine to do something that was once reserved for big-budget movie studios and game developers: Creating high definition 3D models to back up their cultural heritage. All possible using just their phones and an application served freely to the Ukrainian public.


At the core of Russia’s war propaganda is the claim that Ukraine doesn’t have a unique and sovereign national identity. At the same time, there is countless reports of cultural sites destroyed, ranging in number from 53 (Unesco) to 191 (Smithsonian).

And according to BLUE SHIELD (the “red cross for culture”), destroying a country’s cultural heritage is the fastest way to erase its national identity.

So preserving the country’s heritage isn’t just about helping museums.

It’s about a people — and their right to exist.

Describe the creative idea / insights

Destruction of Ukraine’s cultural heritage is nearly inevitable — no matter how many sandbags and protective covers we wrap them in. So how do we make sure that they aren’t lost forever?

By making a digital backup in the cloud — where no bombs can reach.

For the first time in history, UNESCO gave every citizen the power to create high-definition 3D models — and all they needed was their phones.

Using smartphone camera and GPS data to let everyone in Ukraine capture any place or monument in a matter of MINUTES.

We saved the data as blueprints at museum-level standards in an online archive so if they’re ever destroyed, Ukraine's cultural treasures can be rebuilt down to the last detail.

Describe the strategy

In war, every day counts. And with 191 cultural sites destroyed in the first month of the war, we had no time to spare.

Knowing that local authorities were stretched to the limit, the only way we could scale fast enough was by allowing anyone to help Backup Ukraine.

So we deployed the solution nationwide, making the technology available freely to anyone in Ukraine, and used the momentum from press and social to spread the word to the population.

And to ensure safe and relevant captures, we partnered with the MINISTRY OF CULTURE in Kyiv to get official endorsements for volunteers (so that they could capture free from suspicion of espionage). We collaborated with the Ukrainian HERITAGE EMERGENCY RESCUE INITIATIVE to coordinate volunteers and onboard local museums. And teamed up with local NGOs, helping them secure UN funding to sponsor focused local captures on a city by city basis.

Describe the execution

We partnered with 3D startup POLYCAM to customize and apply their photogrammetry algorithm for Backup Ukraine.

It uses machine learning to convert camera and location data to high-definition 3D digital blueprints in a secure cloud archive.

A free app was released to all iOS and Android users in Ukraine, allowing regular people with little training to capture 3D models in a quality that used to be reserved for film studios and professionals with expensive equipment.

We worked closely with archival experts from museums and Blue Shield to ensure that data was saved at museum-level standards of openness and security, committing to keeping the data in cold storage for 5 full years after the war and letting partners export to 10+ 3D formats. We even built new privacy measures to help museums mask the precise location of their collections, shielding them from looting invaders and targeted airstrikes.

List the results

In JUST 10 DAYS from launch, Backup Ukraine secured 170+ articles and news reports in Ukrainian and international press. The story spread rapidly across social media, with 2.500+ shares and 325.000+ video views.

135 civilians signed up to join a volunteer unit coordinated by local authorities, 6 NGOs pledged their support and 5 scanning firms offered equipment, funding and assistance on the ground.

With 2246 weekly downloads and a 44% growth in heritage scanned each week, Ukraine’s 26.800 monuments are on pace to be scanned by SEPTEMBER at the current growth rate.

And Unesco’s National Commissioner even went on public broadcast urging neighbouring countries to start scanning their heritage — before it’s too late

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