Ready for a Field Trip?
By Annie von Domitz
Heritage organizations and government agencies are always on the lookout to find cost effective ways to fulfill their mission and reach the public. The Oregon Travel Experience (OTE) Oregon Historical Marker and Heritage Tree Program is no different, so when we saw an opportunity to participate in a new Google project, we jumped on board.
Google launched their new Field Trip app in September 2012. Field Trip acts like a local tour guide. It pops up messages on your smart phone, alerting you to things you might find interesting nearby. It is a free app available for download on Android and Apple devices.
Our involvement with Field Trip began after I was using the app on my personal phone for a couple of days. I was having a great time using the app to discover hidden public art, interesting architecture and local history, and thought the OTE heritage tree and historical marker sites should be included. We submitted a request to publish our information on Field Trip to Niantic Labs (the division of Google developing the app.) The developers agreed that the content was a good fit. After that, it was a fairly fast process, since we had already formatted the Oregon Historical Marker and Heritage Tree content for OTE’s mobile website. Field Trip was even able to integrate our audio tour files, creating a complete multi-media experience.
OTE has a goal to find ways to take advantage of new mobile technology to reach a wider audience. Although our current funding sources limit our ability to create our own stand-alone apps, the content sharing agreement with Field Trip will help OTE reach a much larger audience than we could on our own at no additional cost.
We are constantly looking for ways to connect with a fast-paced, increasingly plugged-in public. Many people are curious about Oregon history, but are too busy to stop at each site. With the Field Trip app, however, people can get the same information at their own convenience. Of course, they miss out on the scenery and the experience of actually standing in front of a heritage tree or historical marker, but we think it will entice them to stop next time. Either way, this app helps us to reach more residents and visitors alike, and helps drive traffic into the unique communities that people might otherwise miss.
As the Field Trip tag line says, “It’s your world, explore it!” We hope that Oregon heritage sites (and the communities that surround them) will be a big part of that exploration. I have learned about several new places in my own hometown that I would not have found on my own. I plan on visiting as many as I can over the next year. I encourage you to download the app and do some exploring of your own!
Annie von Domitz is the Administrator of OTE Heritage Programs