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Monmouthpedia idea goes global as creator looks to Gibraltar for next Wiki town; PROJECT GENERATED PUBLICITY 'WORTH pounds 2M' FOR AUTHORITY.


IT was the cyber project that made the sleepy market town of Monmouth a internet phenomenon.

And Monmouthpedia has been so successful the mastermind behind the project is taking the idea to the British Territory of Gibraltar.

Roger Bamkin is director of Wikimedia UK - the charity that supports Wikipedia's mission - and the co-creator of Monmouthpedia.

He picked Gibraltar, at the southern tip of Spain, as his next project after being flooded with invitations from places around the world hoping to be the second Wikipedia town.

Mr Bamkin said: "We had invites from New York and Mexico and Scotland after we did Monmouth.

"But we thought Gibraltar was interesting because it was multi-lingual and multi-cultural."

Plaques will now be put on major buildings in Gibraltar containing special QR (quick response) codes, as was done in Monmouth.

People can scan these with their smart phones with articles about the particular buildings then appearing on their phones.

Mr Bamkin also hopes to include the nearby coast of north Africa as well.

The 43-year-old dubbed it an "amazing, exciting project".

"I'm not sure what we will do after Gibraltar," he said.

"We are planning to use new technology there, something called tap technology where you just tap [the QR codes] with your mobile phone.

"At the moment the latest iPhone 4S will do it but in five years everyone will have it on their phone."

Professor Clive Finlayson, Gibraltar's director of heritage, was delighted the scheme was happening.

He told the Gibraltar Chronicle: "Gibraltarpedia is becoming a reality and I quite honestly can say I could not have done this without the support of the tourist board and in particular the minister who has acted very speedily on this. It has been a joint effort by a lot of people."

Gibraltar tourism minister Neil Costa said: "We as a Government have always said we need to be responsive and be able to seize opportunities as and when they arrive.

"When Clive came to talk to me about Wikipedia, or Gibraltarpedia in May we were very quickly able to organise some people from Wikipedia come to Gibraltar for meetings. We had the Gibraltar Museum very graciously show them around Gibraltar, show them the different sites, the flora and fauna, the people, the history and they immediately saw the potential of Gibraltar to be the first Wikipedia city in the world."

Monmouthshire County Council cabinet member for culture and environment Giles Howard said Monmouthpedia had generated publicity that would have otherwise cost the authority more than pounds 2m.

As a result of the success, the council has given the green light to spending pounds 40,000 to fund the expansion of the project.

"I cannot think of one more thing we could have done to generate more interest in Monmouthpedia," he said.

"The interest from the media was something that no council could ever afford through the traditional PR route."

Monmouthshire County Council is now the only authority in the world allowed to use the Wikipedia logo in its promotions.

"It's about doing whatever we can to generate interest in the county and this is a good way to do it," said Cllr Howard.

"We have had training sessions for staff and members of the public to learn how to put articles on Monmouthpedia.

"It has been really well supported by the community." Monmouthpedia's QR-coded plaques scheme will also be expanded through the county.

It is also hoped Monmouth will become the first town to offer free wi-fi across the town centre by October.


* The Monmouthpedia project will now be replicated in the British territory of Gibraltar
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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 23, 2012
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