Tag Archives: Web Apps

App Spotlight: Town of Peterborough, New Hampshire

10 Sep

peterborough-720_framedThe town of Peterborough is creating their Explore “Our Town” mobile app in honor of the town’s 275th anniversary.  2014 is a big year for Peterborough as it also coincides with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 100th anniversary of World War I, and the 75th anniversary of the debut of Thornton Wilder’s American classic, Our Town, which was written while the playwright was in residence at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough.

The app was developed by local resident and historian Tracy Messer, who researched and wrote the content for the app, with the project being supported by the Town of Peterborough. In this in-depth walking tour, Messer details over 175 sites throughout the downtown area which can be accessed by a GPS-enabled map and an alphabetical list.

The goals of the app were three-fold. “We wanted to build awareness and appreciation for the historical and architectural significance of our downtown, while also focusing on the present by promoting local business and cultural organizations,” says Messer. “We also wanted to encourage our citizens to become more actively involved in our community by providing an innovative and dynamic platform for learning about “Our Town”.

An unexpected feature is an extensive section about Thornton Wilder and his 1938 fictional three-act play about Peterborough, Our Town. The app details the play’s history, connects users to its many stage and screen adaptations, and relates the play to various sites around town.

The wealth of detail found in the app can also be demonstrated by the Interactive Civil War Statute and Memorial Gates sites, both of which allow the user to learn about each veteran listed on the monuments.

Visitor information, including anniversary event details, restaurants, and parking are also included in the app.

As general interest and further funding becomes available, new content may include expanding geographic scope beyond the downtown area, incorporating themed tours, and audio and video enhancements.

 

peterborough

Explore Peterborough’s “Our Town” on any web-enabled device at http://peterborough.toursphere.com.

App Spotlight: Heritage Museums & Gardens

23 Jul

Q&A with Andrea Early, Marketing and Communications Director

Heritage-Gardens_framed

Big bugs. Windmill. Vintage carousel. Designer labyrinth. The Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, MA has all the quirk and charm you would expect from a historic museum on Cape Cod. Spanning an expansive 100 acres, it is the largest public garden in Southern New England and celebrates American culture with three galleries that showcase New England folk art, vintage automobiles, and special exhibits. The space is designed to encourage visitors to learn, explore, and discover.

Q. Why did you decide to create a tour app for your organization?

A. We always like to offer information in a variety of formats and apps are now an important part of the mix for our visitors.

Q. What are the goals for the app?

A. It’s a great promotional tool and a convenience for tech-savvy visitors. Plus, our goal is to cut down on the amount of printed maps we give out, helping to preserve the environment and reduce litter in the gardens.

Q. What are the benefits for visitors to use the app?

A. By its very nature, the app offers more in-depth information than our map does. Visitors can tap on linked sections of the map to get more information about the gardens and exhibits and additional photos. There is general information available, too, like our hours of operation, admission, and membership prices. It’s also a great place to list our sponsors!

Q. Can users expect to see any new content in the upcoming year?

A. We plan to keep evolving the app and hope to add audio and video at some point in the coming year.

Q. What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

A. Don’t put it off. It was amazingly easy to do and it’s a great addition to your marketing and communications tool set.

Q. How did you like working with the App Builder?

A. The App Builder is great–easy to use with great support from the TourSphere staff.

Explore the Heritage Museums & Gardens mobile web app. Type http://heritage.toursphere.com into any web-enabled mobile device.

App Spotlight: Metro Nashville Arts Commission

30 Jun

nashville-artsThe Metro Nashville Arts Commission launched a new mobile web app that allows visitors to discover art throughout the area that comprises the Metro Public Art Collection. The goal of the city’s Public Art program is to integrate artwork into public sites to enhance the cultural identity of the city and to make cultural experiences accessible to every citizen.

The app features over thirty sites, in addition to showcasing upcoming projects that are currently being installed. Users can choose between three distinctive tour paths–walking, bicycling, or a driving tour that takes the user through a series of public artworks located in Nashville neighborhoods affected by the 2010 flood. Interpretation is provided via audio, video, and text.

Users can discover public art based on their location with a GPS-enabled map or search by neighborhood. The app will be updated over time to include new pieces and connect users to community events, galleries, and museums throughout the city.

Explore the ArtsNashville mobile web app. Type in the http://artsnashville.toursphere.com into any web-enabled mobile device

Explore the ArtsNashville mobile web app. Type in the http://artsnashville.toursphere.com into any web-enabled mobile device.

App Spotlight: The Historic New Orleans Collection

20 Jun

Self-Guided Tour Offers Visitors Detailed Interpretation of New Orleans History

In an effort to tell the story of Louisiana and its contribution to the growth and culture of our nation, The Historic New Orleans Collection has released a mobile web app that provides an in-depth understanding of objects found within their permanent collection. The app takes the users on a tour of The Louisiana History Galleries, found within the Merieult House, which serves as the main museum facility for the organization.

“New Orleans is approaching its 200th anniversary. Showcased by narrators in the app’s videos, individual objects exemplify a broader context of this history,” says Steve Sweet, Manager of Internet and Interactive Development at The Historic New Orleans Collection. “A visitor in the gallery viewing these objects wouldn’t necessarily comprehend these connections without taking the tour.”

Along with the narrative, the videos, which were produced in-house, also include additional objects from the collection that are not on view, further illustrating Louisiana’s story. The interpretation is similar to that of traditional docent led tours, but offers visitors the flexibility to explore the museum at their own pace with their personal devices.

iPad Minis and disposable earbuds will also be provided to visitors who don’t have their own devices to take the tour.

The Historic New Orleans Collection used OnCell-TourSphere’s app building service, QuickStart, to create the app.

Access The Historic New Orleans Collection web app on any internet enabled device at http://thnoc.toursphere.com

Access The Historic New Orleans Collection web app at http://thnoc.toursphere.com

App Spotlight: Connecticut River Museum’s April 8, 1814 British Raid Walking Tour

2 Jun

Q&A with Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education

Scan the QR code to access the audio tour app!

Scan the QR code to experience the audio tour app!

The Connecticut River Museum, in historic Essex, CT, is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. It plays an important role in collecting and protecting manuscripts, books, art, and artifacts of regional significance. This app details the historic 1814 Raid by the British on Essex, and is one of many ways offered by the museum to interact with the story, allowing users to discover details of the event. The app was built to complement their newly redesigned British Raid on Essex exhibit.

The tour takes the user across Essex Village and follows two children, Austin and Emma, as they experience the raid first hand. In an effort to bring more interactivity to the experience, most of the sites on the tour encourage users to participate in activities along the way. The Connecticut River Museum used the TourSphere App Builder to build their own app and created the content in-house by creatively utilizing their resources. Curator Amy Trout, coordinator of all the Battlesite research, wrote the script. They enlisted one of their trustees, who does voiceover work, to help with audio production and editing, and brought in children of employees to narrate.

Q: What are your interpretive goals for the Battlesite Essex project and what are the benefits for visitors to use the app?

A: We wanted to raise awareness and understanding of the April 8, 1814 event, and through that, emphasize the fact that history happens here (and everywhere!) This project offers a way for visitors to take the information in the museum’s exhibit and bring it out into the landscape, explore Essex Village, and retrace the event along the way–it’s something fun for visitors to do together as family and friends.

Q: What inspired you to have the tour experience seen through children’s eyes?

A: We wanted to emphasize this as an activity for families and inter-generational groups of visitors. The intent was to keep the story fairly basic and not be overly academic. We already have the exhibit which offers the greater details and analysis, so using the kids as narrators kept it fresh and upbeat.

Q: What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

1. Make sure you offer information in layers to engage a variety of users.
2. Walk the route a lot (even if you think you know it).
3. Less can be more (if you have lots of info to share, combine the tour with an exhibit, printed guide, website or other way for folks to get the info).
4. Work as a team, different perspectives are key in a project like this because users will come at your product from different places.

Q: How did you like working with the App Builder?

A: The App Builder was very easy to use. The video tutorials and staff training session addressed almost all the areas that could have been issues. Everyone was great at answering questions promptly when things cropped up. The App Builder was actually fun to work with and being able to preview as you went was very handy.

For more on info on producing your own content in-house check out our do-it-yourself series.

April 8, 1814 - The British Raid on Essex mobile audio tour app. To access the tour scan the QR Code above or type http://connecticutrivermuseum.toursphere.com into your web-enabled device

April 8, 1814 – The British Raid on Essex mobile audio tour app. To access the tour scan the QR Code above or type http://connecticutrivermuseum.toursphere.com into your web-enabled device

Historic Peirce Mill Re-launches Mobile Tour App for the 2014 Season

23 May

Perice MillPeirce Mill is the last existing mill in the District of Columbia and the only 19th-century gristmill maintained by the National Park Service that operates on a full-time basis. On the National Register of Historic Places, Peirce Mill is a living museum and tribute to the 1820s economy of America and D.C.’s agrarian past. Despite changes over time, the sturdy exterior and interior retain the authentic appearance and atmosphere of a 19th century grist mill, with 170 year-old stone walls, authentic wooden milling machinery, hand-hewn beams and columns, and heavy oak floor boards.

Created by the Friends of Peirce Mill, this app has new additions for 2014.

“We looked forward to the re-launch as we were really pleased with the number of visits during the initial run of the app, and we’re sure it will continue to be a popular mobile website for visitors to Rock Creek National Park,” says Steve Dryden, Program Manager for the Friends of Peirce Mill.

This mobile tour app details how the mill works through a hand-drawn interactive image, details the mills restoration, and its history with archival photography.  Learn about the native wildflowers at the Nature Center, other mills in the Rock Creek, and find markers for trails to reach Peirce Mill with the GPS-enabled map.

“We made revisions this year so visitors can understand the larger picture of milling on Rock Creek, including the little known fact that President John Quincy Adams owned a mill less than a mile downstream from the Peirce’s,” says Dryden. “The mill is a fun place to visit and always attracts crowds, but as its hours open to the public are limited, we need the presence given  by the app.  And, the mill history and technology is somewhat complicated, so the app gives people a head start in understanding the site. There’s a good deal of information on other destinations related to the mill and our nonprofit group, so the app is important for visitors who don’t necessarily stop by the mill itself.”

To view the Peirce Mill App, visit http://peircemill.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Peirce Mill App, visit http://peircemill.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

 

App Spotlight: Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area

16 Apr

March-14-Blog-smartphone-NFUR-homeThe Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area celebrates and preserves the wealth of places and stories associated with the Underground Railroad found within the City of Niagara Falls and the surrounding region. During the 1800s the city was an established border crossing and served a critical role in the Underground Railroad by providing safe passage of slaves into Canada via ferry and the Suspension Bridge. Within the region there was an active network of Abolitionists and anti-slavery activists that helped provide money, food, and shelter to fugitive slaves, in addition to providing jobs and education to African Americans.

OnCell-TourSphere worked closely with the Heritage Area Committee and Environmental Design & Research, a landscape and environmental design consulting firm, to create a custom designed tour app that details the many historic sites across the region. The app consists of both a walking and driving tour, which overlap across multiple sites. The app offers interpretation via detailed history and historic imagery, and includes an interactive map which marks the tour routes.

Scan the QR code to tour the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage app or visit: http://niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.toursphere.com

Scan the QR code to tour the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage app or visit:
http://niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.toursphere.com

5 Reasons to Build an App for Your Event

6 Nov

Regardless of the occasion—open studio, professional conference, or other—hosting an event takes a lot of effort.

Several TourSphere clients have used our app builder to create “Event Apps” that make life easier – for you and event attendees.

5 Ways an Event App Can Help You and Your Guests

Smartphone user at conference1. Have schedules at your fingertips. An app provides real-time schedule information in one accessible place—that is easily editable with our builder.

For their 2013 conference, the Virginia Association of Museums created an event app and added a Schedule section. It broke down all activities over the four-day conference, providing a convenient reference point for attendees.

2. Integrate directions and maps. Our app builder allows you to integrate a Google map or even insert a custom map with touchable hotspots for indoor events, or situations with poor connectivity, that takes users to specific points in the app.

The arts organization New Art Love uses TourSphere to build apps for open studio events for local artists. Not only does the app show users where to go, it lists the numbers and names of all artists at each point of interest.

3. Make recommendations about local attractions. Some guests might not know where they can grab a bite to eat on the way to the event, or what else there is to do in the area if they arrive early. The New England Museum Association used their 2012 conference app to detail city tours and point users to transportation and dining options.

4. Provide a portal for other event resources. An event app can also remind your guests why they’re coming and what to expect from the event through the careful placement of mission statements and background information about you, the host. You can also provide info for users to follow up after the event. For example, apps created by New Art Love allow visitors to look up their favorite artists and directly link to their websites, increasing purchases associated with the event and bolstering interest in the community. Apps can also be excellent tools for providing additional sponsorship and exhibitor visibility.

5. Make your guests feel cared for and welcome. The host’s ultimate responsibility is ensuring that their guests have a good time. By putting all the practical information about your event in one place, you and your co-hosts are free to greet guests personally and focus attention on the event’s purpose, whether that’s promoting a new product, showcasing ideas, or bringing family and friends together.

Why a Pilot App Makes Sense

1 May

It’s tempting to think about creating an app that highlights every historical point of interest in your city; or every artifact in your museum. Stop! Don’t go any further.

While it’s great to dream, and to plan in grandiose visions, the truth is – you should dip your toe in the water before jumping into the pool. What do I mean?

Mobile apps have changed, even in the couple of years they’ve been around. Now you can build them yourself – or use template-based app builders like TourSphere – to quickly and easily build apps. The best approach, in my opinion, is to build a pilot app. This is a scaled down version of an app that you can build in 4 – 8 weeks and without much staff time. Then you have a viable product to give to your visitors. They, not you, provide feedback on the experience. They, not you, tell you how to make it better.

Once you have real, quantifiable data from your visitors, you can continue to build out and enhance your mobile app. Then you’re building something your visitors want – not something you think they want.

Let’s take an example. I spoke this morning with a museum that has a campus of six buildings; at any given time they have 3 rotating exhibits; a permanent outdoor sculpture garden; and a permanent indoor collection of over 10,000 objects. They were considering making a massive financial investment, and literally years of planning and staff time, to build an app that included EVERYTHING.

That is potentially a tragic waste of resources. I encouraged them to instead offer a simple “Curator’s Choice” app, which would highlight 20 curator favorites in the permanent collection. The app will take about 6 weeks to build. They will have it in time for summer; and they will have Analytics and a built-in Visitor Survey, in the app. This will give them real data – to inform their long-term mobile app strategy.

This is the way to do it. It saves you time, money, frustration – and leaves the decisions regarding the visitor experience to, well, the visitors.

App Spotlight: Canadian Museum of Nature

19 Mar

naturetrekforblog

The “Nature Trek” app at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada is designed specifically for young visitors to this breathtaking science museum. In this creative app, users are encouraged to explore themes of subject matter that is classified as “Gross”, “Bizarre”, or “Ugly”.

The app contains candid interviews with museum curators and staff – and even includes a “Highlight Tour” of staff favorites around the museum.  Visitors to the museum will get a whole new view in to the museum with this mobile app as their guide.  The app is offered in both French and English.

To view the app, visit http://naturetrek.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the app, visit http://naturetrek.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

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