Local CH: inclusion, access, economic development

Local Cultural Heritage – inclusion, access and economic development

Case Study Coordinator: Coventry University,  Neil Forbes and Sarah Whatley, email: N.Forbes@coventry.ac.uk, S.Whatley@coventry.ac.uk

The value of Citizen Science lies not just in the opportunity it presents to mobilise resources in an extremely cost-effective way, but also in the contribution it can make to generating new perspectives and understandings of the contribution of specifically local cultural heritage to local economic regeneration and growth.

Coventry is, in essence, a medieval city that has witnessed great changes brought about by craft-based industries and later industrial processes. The city has always hosted a broad and varied mix of populations. In the twentieth century, much of the centre was destroyed in the devastating air raids of 1940. However, a significant proportion of the historic fabric of the city survives. Many historic buildings, although of great value in themselves, have been adapted for contemporary use. In the context of Coventry, heritage is regarded as a dynamic concept: historic buildings and sites are conserved and enrich the environment for residents and visitors but may also provide accommodation for cultural and creative enterprise and other activities.

CovUni’s Serious Games International company has designed and built a revolutionary visitor app for Coventry City Council.  Optimised for Android and iOS devices, this app represents a technological benchmark in tourism attraction. The app features everything a user, both local and form further afield,  would need to know about the region but additionally introduces tour guides, treasure hunts, gamification (collect points and complete achievements) that tie-in to local businesses.   This will interact with culturally and historically relevant buildings in the City, enabling citizens to both access information, and more importantly contribute knowledge about their location.

The App was developed by a process of engagement with many different local groups; it will continue to be updated, providing even more content, with cutting-edge developments planned for the future, in the shape of a Technology Strategy Board funded project to work with Coventry to ‘re-imagine’ the high street, which will use the very latest technologies to drive behavioural change within the city. The App’s content is rich, informative and aims to deliver a simple, effective and fun navigational and educational tool. It includes:

  • Origins of the City
  • Industrial background/history: Bicycles, Motor Vehicles, Textiles, Watch & Clock-Making.
  • War and conflict
  • Tours – including City Peace Trail
  • Local legends – George Eliot, Lady Godiva, Peeping Tom, Sir Frank Whittle, Shakespeare
  • Lists of historic buildings, museums & galleries, arts & theatres, parks & gardens – with short info on each entry.

The novel aspect of this case study is that it will bring together the groups involved in this project to explore the ‘fit’  of the technologies to local circumstance, and the value of digital technologies – or the limitations particular technologies  present -  to enhancing the engagement of stakeholders,  ranging in scale from construction and property companies to smaller creative enterprises and individuals to academic researchers,  in local economic, business and cultural development.


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