Is there a particular place you love — a little-known walk, park or business — that you’d like to share with others? A new smartphone app and online resource, set to be launched next week at the National Eisteddfod, allows you to do just that — create and share a digital profile of the places you care about.
Placebooks is an innovative, bi-lingual, online toolkit including a website and smartphone app that allows anyone to create, publish and share digital profiles of your favourite places. The app is available through the Android app store.
The website and app have been developed by The University of Nottingham Mixed Reality Lab and Swansea University in partnership with People’s Collection Wales. They are funded by Research Councils UK with support from the Ordnance Survey and Horizon Digital Economy Research. The site and app are designed specifically for use in rural locations — much of the testing and development work has been conducted in rural Wales, Ceredigion. There are plans for the service to evolve from being Wales-wide to Europe-wide, encompassing a whole range of languages and cultural archives.
Both the app and website make use of detailed Ordnance Survey mapping, and the app is designed to work even in areas with no mobile phone reception. Once a PlaceBook profiled is created or downloaded, the content is ‘cleverly’ packaged and then stored on the phone — allowing you to access your favourite Placebooks on the go. The app then uses GPS to show you how close you are to the content in the PlaceBook without a 3G signal. Where 3G is available, the app can be set up to use the signal.
Dr Alan Chamberlain of the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham said, “Giving people the chance to tell and share stories about their culture, interests and daily life is of the upmost importance and could have both a direct impact upon the economy and heritage of an area for years to come.
“Users of the website can upload their own media, or draw on a wealth of content from their People’s Collection Wales user accounts to create “books” that incorporate text, images, video, audio, maps and routes. At the moment users use their own archived content, but we envisage a system that allows the user to pull together a range of media from a number of archives, museums, libraries, galleries and other data sources. The list is endless really.”
An open launch workshop takes place at the National Eisteddfod on Monday 6th August. Participants can start developing their own PlaceBooks, take part in a discussion over the further development of the open-source system, and will be able to ask the developers for advice about how these tools can be used to promote their community, business or interests.
For more information on PlaceBooks visit the website.
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