Knoxville, Tennessee – The University of Tennessee Community Partnership Center (CPC) has led the development of a mobile tourism application to encourage asset-based economic and community development in Knoxville. The CPC partnered with community organizations in Knoxville to create content for a walking tour to promote African-American heritage and cultural tourism in Knoxville.
The Beck Tour app is a free iPhone app that presents a walking tour featuring 13 historically and culturally significant sites in and around downtown Knoxville, TN. While at or near each your site, the app enables users to read brief narratives about the site’s importance and view photos of notable people and events related to a particular site. Adding to the uniqueness of this app, tour participants can view 4-6 minute videos about the historic and cultural significance at 10 of the sites.
The Beck Cultural Exchange Center, the lead community organization in the project, is a part of the Knox County Library System that researches, collects, preserves, and exhibits African-American achievements and culture. Additionally, the Carpetbag Theatre is a performing arts organization that created the digital stories, 4-5 minute videos that provide virtual interpretation of ten sites on the tour. All the content in the app was created by local historians, artists, designers, and software developers drawing upon the remarkable archives of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.
“With this cultural heritage tour, we hope to create an immersive experience and a new way for people to view historic content and learn about notable people, past uses of particular buildings, or happenings at significant sites while standing at or near the site,” said Eric Ogle, the project’s leader at UT. “Whether you are a visitor or a local, we think everyone one interested in Knoxville will want to view the tour.”
Also integral to the project at UT is Sarah Lowe, Associate Professor of Graphic Design in the School of Art. Sarah was involved with the project from an early stage, and involved one of her classes with the design of the web-based tour interface. However, the graphic design of the app was entirely Sarah, and her expertise in human-computer interfaces brought a lot to the intuitiveness to the app with the goal of providing an enjoyable user experience for first-time users of the app.
Providing the programming for the iPhone app was software developer David Levi, who recently started up his own company, Double Apps, Inc. David was drawn into app development primarily through games, and has some gaming apps on the App Store, but the geo-location aspect of this project was of special interest to him. David is an excellent software developer with 20 years of experience, and with the content available for this tour he was able to program a lot of functionality into the app while creating a scalable framework that will enable the Beck Center to add additional tour sites and content to the app for years to come.
“The beginnings of this project came before the iPhone and other smart phones even existed, so a lot of the pieces to app were already in development. We already had a web-based tour in development so with the popularity of the iPhone, it just made sense to develop an app for that platform.” Eric Ogle added, “David put a lot of programming into the app that operates behind the scenes, and when paired with Sarah’s design, we have an efficient and professional-looking app that will set the standard in location-based touring apps for some time.”
In addition to the iPhone app, for non-iPhone users there is a mobile web version of the tour, as well as one tailored to laptop or iPad size screens that will be coming online soon.
From an economic and community development point of view, the project desires to attract people to downtown and adjacent neighborhoods and encourages them to stay in the community as long as possible. The tour will get people walking around, eating, shopping, and visiting retailers at their own pace, all while learning about the history and culture of Knoxville’s vibrant African-American community, which er hope will further encourage people to visit places throughout the greater community. Perhaps as important, building on Knoxville’s rich historic assets, the tour app will enrich the cultural identity of Knoxville. Getting people to become more aware of their heritage will instill a sense of place and community among residents.
We anticipate the Beck Tour to add many more tour locations in the months ahead, but the app will initially launch with the first 13. So enjoy what is the first of many location-based tourism applications sure to come for the City of Knoxville and the State of Tennessee.
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iOS 3.0 or later
* 18.6 MB
Pricing and Availability:
Beck Tour 1.0 is free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Travel category.
Double Apps Inc is an iPhone and iPad application development business based in Knoxville, Tennessee, founded by twenty-year veteran of software development, David B. Levi. Double Apps provides app development services and also develops games for the iPhone and iPad. For more information visit Double Apps online. Copyright (C) 2010 Double Apps Inc. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
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