Some time ago there was some discussion on improving signage and introduction of new technology.

Family member lives on the Jurassic Coast and yesterday came across a post with eighteen of those round plastic discs on it indicating direction of local features .... 'said this was a bit over the top ... why not use QR codes.

Unfortunately discovered that these depend on availability of a Mobile Phone signal and Purbeck, being Rural, is not well covered ... signal often comes via France !

Just checked with UK "Dead Spots" ... unfortunately much of central SDNP similarly has poor reception which is an unexpected hazard if out walking and have problems.

Any feedback on this one and are there any plans to improve coverage for Visitors to the National Park ?

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Could the residents have better coverage too please?

And the workers?

Eighteen months ago Government promised to spend £150m filling in Rural mobile black spots for the benefit of local Business and Tourists .... CLA much involved ... any known activists in SDNP ?

Obvious safety factor for lone guys working with machinery and large animals .... chain saws, falling trees and quad bikes come to mind.

Mobility scooter is pretty agile but will overturn if it catches a rabbit hole or a deep rut, almost impossible to free a trapped foot without help.

Time to shout before the money runs out ... Broadband another hot topic in Rural areas.

I worked on a project for the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site which is spread across two counties and has similar challenges.

One of the things we looked at was the use of geo-location and augmented reality (the so-called "Terminator-vision" :-) ) to overlay elements on top of a landscape using a smart-phone's camera. Nice thing about this is that this is very low impact as it is based upon where you are without having to dot the place with signs and boards. Given just about everyone has a smartphone these days, it may be a sensible option.

HP also developed something called Mediascape which uses geolocation and gave a really good demo that worked in Queen's Square in Bristol. As you moved about the square, you were immersed with audio clips of the re-enactment of a riot that took place there in Regency times, in addition to getting a narrative. Very evocative. 

With Google Glass, we'll all be doing the Terminator thing anyway! :-)

Hasta la Vista Baby :-)

This is a good point and one where were had exactly the same issue at Dover re an expensive French mobile signal. The solution being proposed is to create a mobile app with individual interest points triggered by QR codes.

Mobile signal strength was considered before installing the current QR code signs at nine points along the South Downs National Trail - locations were picked on thew SDNP that have a good signal, at points ranging from Winchester Hill in the West along to Amberley and Arundel in the East. One advantage of the South Downs is that its higher points are the site of many mobile masts, so reception is therefore generally good at these points (and good for the views too!).

Reviewing the UK maps of major mobile operators helps before siting QR codes, but local testing before siting was also key to ensure a reasonable signal. However, apart from a mobile app there are several solutions where signal is poor:

  • Have each visitor point of interest as part of a mobile friendly website with navigation menus to each point. This way people can still see the point of interest information later on when signal is better. South Downs example here
  • The option to create a localised Wi-Fi network (that can also be wind or solar powered) where there are larger numbers of visitors. This is what we're looking at for a Cornish mining area project.
  • QR codes that link to plain text that appears on a mobile screen so no signal is needed (for geocaching, quiz trail or a local point of interest)
  • Simply suggesting people save the web link the QR code goes to and then just view it later when signal is better (people were OK with this based on SDNP research in summer 2012) - see here

Well earned MSc Andrew ...

Visitors from London and elsewhere much more on the ball than those from Sussex ...

So easy to pass a point of interest that is just out of sight such as the 3 Chanctonbury Dew Ponds ...

Be useful if guys at SDNPA could contribute more information on paths through their territory ... last week's Ramble from the Sustainability Centre gave no clue about Accessibility problems such as stiles or tight kissing gates.

Hope there is some sensitivity on siting mobile phone masts ... Historic Tolmare Dew Pond, once host to the Great Crested Newt and Thomas Hardy definitely not the place to put one ... presumably SDNPA as a Planning Authority is now responsible for siting these things.

Another loose horse on 400 acre Bookham Common yesterday ... Mobile App would have been handy to trace  rider and round up horse in dense woodland before it strayed too far.

Rural Bus Stops around here have displays showing times next is due ... presumably solar powered.

Theft from country car parks rife .... CCTV possible deterrent.

Enough to be going on with Andrew ?

I have been contacted by SDNP and Andrew Kerry-Bedell about this requirement, and we are working on a solar-powered outdoor version of a thing called Info-Point (see www.info-point.eu ) which we hope to have available in May. It doesn't help the security aspect as it does not use the internet or phone signal, but it can deliver downloadable maps and advice like first aid stations.

If it helps, this lack of phone signal is surprisingly common on outdoor trails and other heritage sites as they tend to be remote from population centres. Sadly 4G won't help either - it requires more phone masts, which is another issue...

Hi John, interesting point re using local buses - I have been speaking with local companies Metrobus and Brighton and Hove buses and they are considering adding QR codes and some are already trialling NFC Tags at local bus stops. Mobile users can scan a code or Tag and get fast information about bus timetables and arrivals via the bus companies' real-time bus arrival web pages. This is all part of a sustainable transport drive in the South Downs area that should help less able visitors to the South Downs navigate their way to points of interest more readily.

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