Interactive signs, known as totems, have recently been installed at 12 sites in Norwich to help promote the city's heritage.
As well as showing information and pictures, the totems are fitted with Bluetooth technology that allows passers-by to download additional, more detailed information and images onto their mobile phone free of charge, providing them with content they can take away and access on an ongoing basis.
The interactive totems are situated near 11 of the Norwich 12 buildings - a group of Norwich's most iconic heritage buildings - with the twelfth standing towards the bottom of Timberhill. To download information to a mobile phone, all passers-by have to do is ensure their Bluetooth connection is switched on and they will then receive an alert asking if they wish to accept incoming heritage content.
Currently the totems are offering images and text information but by early next year all 12 will offer people the chance to download more advanced content in the form of a menu-based Java application. The applications will feature detailed information about the relevant Norwich 12 buildings or the buildings situated on Timberhill - from when and why they were built to how you can visit them today, plus both historical and present day images, and even virtual reality animations so you can 'see' around the whole building. Installation of the totems follows positive evaluation of a pilot totem placed outside Norwich Castle in 2008.
Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) has installed the interactive totems as part of SHAPING 24 - a cultural tourism project that is raising the profile of heritage in Norwich and the Belgian city of Ghent. SHAPING 24 is being led by HEART with Ghent City Council as the partner organisation. The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund from the European Union's INTERREG IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013.
Michael Loveday, Chief Executive of HEART, said: 'The totems are an innovative way of increasing access to some of the city's amazing buildings. For instance, due to the Guildhall's medieval layout, wheelchair access to the upper floors isn't possible but by downloading the information from the totem outside, people will be able to see what's inside the first floor Council Chamber and Sword Room without even having to enter the building.'
Caroline Jarrold, Community Affairs Adviser at Jarrold & Sons, said: 'Norwich 12 buildings such as St James Mill, the headquarters of Jarrolds, are working buildings and therefore only open to the public at certain times. St James Mill's interactive totem will mean that people can access images of the interior, as well as historical information about the building, at any time.'
Jane Ward, Information Manager at Norwich Tourist Information Centre, said: 'Installing the totems is a boost for the tourism industry in Norwich as they raise its profile as a forward-thinking city and give another dimension to the many attractions already offered here.'
HEART is interested to know what people think about the new totems - if you have any comments please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Notes to editors
For more information please contact Christina Lister, Communications Manager at Norwich HEART on 01603 599570 or email email@example.com or Sophie Harrison, Communications Officer at Norwich HEART on 01603 599578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the interactive totems
Interactive totems fitted with Bluetooth technology have been installed near 11 of the Norwich 12 buildings - Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral, The Halls - St Andrew's and Blackfriars', The Guildhall, Dragon Hall, The Assembly House, St James Mill, The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Surrey House, City Hall and The Forum - with a twelfth totem installed towards the bottom of Timberhill. A wall sign showing heritage information has been fitted at The Great Hospital and it is hoped that this Norwich 12 building will have similar Bluetooth technology installed in 2011 as part of a project to develop the lodge at The Great Hospital into a facility for interpreting the building's history.
About Norwich 12
Norwich 12 is the UK's finest collection of individually outstanding heritage buildings spanning the Norman, Georgian, Victorian and modern eras, offering walks and tours; visitor attractions; exhibitions; music and performances; cafes and restaurants; and gift shops. It is a pioneering heritage concept that is developing 12 of the city's iconic buildings into an integrated family of heritage attractions which will act as an internationally important showcase of English urban and cultural development over the last 1,000 years.
Norwich 12 comprises: Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral, The Great Hospital, The Halls - St Andrew's and Blackfriars', The Guildhall, Dragon Hall, The Assembly House, St James Mill, The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Surrey House, City Hall and The Forum.
Norwich 12 is an initiative by Norwich HEART, which secured £1 million from the Treasury's Invest to Save Budget for the project to initially run 2006-9. The ERDF funding allows this initiative to be developed until 2011.
About SHAPING 24
SHAPING 24 - Strategies for Heritage Access Pathways in Norwich and Ghent - is a new cultural tourism initiative that will link together the 12 heritage sites in Norwich that make up Norwich 12, with 12 heritage sites in Ghent. The project seeks to promote and support the 24 sites, raise the profile of Norwich and Ghent as significant cultural heritage cities and increase awareness of the longstanding historical links between this part of England and the Low Countries. By working together, the two cities will benefit from the experiences and professional expertise in both cities, and will be able to apply innovative approaches to the challenges facing historic cities.
SHAPING 24 is being led by HEART with Ghent City Council as the partner organisation. The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund from the European Union's INTERREG IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013. The total value of SHAPING 24 is €4.5m, of which Norwich's share is €2.3m, which includes match funding from a variety of organisations.
About Norwich HEART
Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) is a private, charitable trust set up to act as an umbrella organisation for all of the heritage on offer in Norwich. We strategically plan, regenerate, manage and promote Norwich's heritage and act as a best practice model internationally for developing heritage as a social and economic regeneration vehicle. HEART receives core funding from Norwich City Council and further project funding from a variety of sources which has to date included the European Union, HM Treasury, the East of England Development Agency and Norfolk County Council.
Norwich 12 and SHAPING 24 are initiatives by HEART.
This project arose out of a mutual desire to exploit the existing connections between the two cities - Norwich and Ghent have previously worked together on the Liveable City project which aimed to improve the public space in historic city centres.
Norwich also shares many important aspects of economic, social and cultural history with Ghent going back centuries - for example the lives of the burghers, merchants and guildsmen in the two regions in the middle ages; the development of the wool trade in the sixteenth century; the establishment of trade routes; religious connections; and the importance of migration for the two cities - especially the settlement of Flemish workers in Norwich in the 16th century.
Today these two cities share a sense of cultural development, developing and promoting the distinctiveness of their city's heritage in a range of innovative ways.
Just as Norwich was England's second city from the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Ghent was one of the most important cities in Europe from the year 1000 to around 1550, second only to Paris in size.
Today, it is the capital of the province of East Flanders with a population of 240,000.
As with Norwich, much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact. The city boasts three beguinages and a belfry which are recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, one medieval castle, a cathedral, several museums and two important abbeys.
For more information go to www.visitgent.be.
What is Interreg IVA 2 Seas Programme?
Interreg IVA 2 Seas Programme is an EU-funded programme which can part-finance joint co-operation projects between organisations in eligible areas in England and organisations in eligible areas in France, Belgium and/or the Netherlands under a variety of themes including Economic Development, Environment and Quality of Life.
The programme covers an area of cross-border cooperation located at the crossroads of the Channel and the North Sea and involves the coastal regions of four member states: France (Nord-Pas de Calais), England, Flanders and the Netherlands.
The overall aim of the INTERREG IVA Programme is to: 'Support strategic cross-border co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable region.'
For more information on the 2 Seas programme visit: http://www.interreg4a-2mers.eu/UK/pdf/InfosclesUK.pdf
This press release reflects the author's views. The INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Programme Authorities are not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.