Museums and the Web

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GPS-Triggered Location-Based Technologies at Parks Canada: The Explora Project

TitleGPS-Triggered Location-Based Technologies at Parks Canada: The Explora Project
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsTarasoff, T., Hutcheson M., & Rhin C.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2009. Proceedings
Conference Start DateApril 15-18, 200
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedIndianapolis, Indiana, USA
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordseducation, evaluation, GPS, location-based information, mobile, PDA

Handheld GPS-triggered location-based devices seem ideal for outdoor heritage sites. In this age of economic strain, they may be able to attract new audiences and draw existing audiences to return more often. But what do we really know about how these devices impact visitor experience and learning? Which segments of our audience do they actually appeal to? Can heritage institutions with limited financial and human resources develop these types of projects sustainably? To find out, between November 2007 and July 2008, Parks Canada staff developed and launched three handheld GPS-triggered tours. The process of developing the tours was monitored closely throughout the 8-month development period, and feedback gathered from team members and other staff. Then during the two-month pilot period, over 1000 visitors used the devices; regular feedback was provided by both users and staff.The project had many positive outcomes, including recommendations for streamlining the development process and product delivery, a better understanding of the target audience, and suggestions for improving the usability and effectiveness of the devices.