Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums
On Wednesday 11 March the University of Cambridge Museums held an event with Visit Cambridge at Michaelhouse on Trinity Street. The evening presented an opportunity to celebrate Mobile Technology and Tourism in the City through a series of short talks. This included talks about practical and creative mobile apps that have attracted a wide range of audiences to Cambridge as well as an introduction to the plans for Visit Cambridge as they move towards a new model for the future delivery of tourism for Cambridge.
Around 60 people attended. The attendees came from a range of industries including technology companies, cultural organisations and independent retailers. It was a really great opportunity for different groups to meet, explore and discuss what else is happening in Cambridge. The overarching question for the evening was ‘How can Mobile Technology enhance the cultural offer in Cambridge and improve the visitor experience?’
Emma Thornton, Head of Tourism and City Centre Management played the role of host and did a great job of ensuring the evening ran smoothly. As well as this, she kicked off the talks by introducing the audience to the plans for Visit Cambridge to be a business led partnership. This is referred to in the tourism industry as a Destination Management Organisation (DMO). This model is based on guidance from Government and best practise nationally. It provides a real opportunity to deliver a long term, financially sustainable model for tourism, whilst increasing investment and, safeguarding the visitor economy as a key economic driver for the city and the surrounding area. With sustainability a key driving factor of these changes, it was interesting to then explore whether mobile technology could achieve this.
Next up was an introduction to the new free web app called CultureFinder. CultureFinder displays images of objects, public art, architecture etc that can be found around Cambridge’s city centre. Users can follow or create their own tour around the city. The project is a University of Cambridge Museums initiative, funded by NESTA, the Arts Council and AHRC through the Digital R&D Fund. David Scruton talked about the journey of the project, which started 18 months ago. He discussed some of the decisions that were made along the way, for example whether CultureFinder should be a native or web app. Hannah Kershaw, Digital Associate then showed a short promotional film made by staff at the Fitzwilliam Museum and conducted a quick demo. This event acted as a great platform to promote CultureFinder and start conversations with individual attendees about the potential to collaborate.
Helen Weinstein, Creative Director of Historyworks gave a really interesting talk about Cycle of Songs, which was a commission for nine new Art works in sound to mark the Tour de France coming to Cambridge in the summer of 2014. Helen talked about the decision to create an app to showcase the project and leave a digital legacy beyond the events and activities last year. She provided valuable insights into how to sustain the number of downloads through widening participation and legacy projects. Helen emphasised the importance of showcasing the project on other platforms such as a content rich website as well as engaging schools with activities. Interestingly the events and website tended to attracted more users than the app. A Cycle of Songs Tour was shown as an example of how the project can be adapted for different uses.
Billy Gibson, creator of the Live Cambridge app provided a brief introduction to electronic guides and an overview of Live Cambridge. Live Cambridge aims to be a comprehensive what’s on guide to Cambridge including information about transport and cultural events. He talked about how people engage with Live Cambridge by exploring some of the stats. Some particularly interesting ones were the times of day people engaged with the app. Mostly in the morning and evening which is interesting when thinking about CultureFinder. CultureFinder is meant to be a planning tool for people visiting Cambridge and so it is reassuring that people tend to use tourist apps the evening before or morning of their trip.
Simon Poulter and Rachel Drury, Directors of Collusion did an amusing, engaging and enlightening show and tell of some of the digital projects they’ve worked on. They also talked more generally about locative media. Their recent projects include ‘Cambridge Invents’, using the Chirp app to engage visitors with the history of inventions in Cambridge using bespoke markers. They discussed their recent lab project in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University, University of Cambridge Museums and ARM; including some test work with the mbed system and Google Physical Web. Simon emphasised the importance of observing human behaviour in order to develop a successful project and highlighted the key points in the evening where the audience were particularly engaged with the talks. This included when films were played and when Billy talked about statistics.
We’ve had some great feedback and as a result of this event the University of Cambridge Museums are working with several cultural organisations to create tours on CultureFinder as well as exploring other opportunities for collaboration. Remember CultureFinder is up and running and we’d love for you to try it out – simply click here!
Hannah Kershaw, Digital Associate, University of Cambridge Museums