The C&O Canal Trust’s new mobile app, the C&O Canal Explorer, was awarded the Innovative Product Partnership Award from the Public Lands Alliance on February 28 during the Public Lands Alliance Convention and Trade Show in Palm Springs, CA.
The app was developed by the C&O Canal Trust, the official nonprofit partner of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, which works in partnership with the National Park Service and local communities to raise funds to preserve the Park for future generations and to broaden support through programs that highlight the Park’s historical, natural, and cultural heritage and recreational opportunities.
The mobile app launched in the summer of 2017 as a navigation and interpretation tool to assist visitors in exploring the 184.5 mile-long C&O Canal National Historical Park. It includes over 600 points of interest in the Park mapped in a searchable format, allowing users to find at a glance hiking trails, historic sites, trailheads, parking, and more. The app also calculates the distance from a user’s location to nearby amenities and points of interest, with the ability to view what lies both upstream and downstream of a current location.
The Public Lands Alliance’s Partnership Awards honor individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs and services that embody leading edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors. The Innovative Product Award recognizes an interpretive product of any medium created in partnership by a nonprofit organization and land management agency that embodies a path-breaking approach to achieve a public lands mission.
“This mobile app incorporates both beautiful photos and design,” the judges explained. “The app solves a complicated issue that many large and diverse public lands sites face and is packed with every conceivable question answered to encourage the user to move on to the next site. It’s easily accessible, no matter where you start your tour and is an excellent use of multiple partners, each bringing their own expertise to tell the story.”
The C&O Canal Explorer mobile app was developed at the request of the C&O Canal National Historical Park to help fill a gap in staffing. Cermak Technologies, Inc. from Chambersburg, PA, handled the design and programming, while a corps of volunteer photographers shot the images used in the app. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club GPS Rangers also volunteered their time to collect GPS coordinates for each location. The project was funded in part by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.
“We are thrilled with this recognition of our mobile app,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Heidi Schlag, who oversaw the creation of the app. “As the Park’s official partner, we aim to improve the visitor experience in a variety of ways, and this app enables visitors to explore the Park with the help of the devices they already have in their pockets. We hope the app helps users discover aspects of the Park they never knew existed. We are excited to provide that opportunity.”
The C&O Canal Explorer mobile app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices from their respective app stores for $0.99. Visit www.canaltrust..org/app for more information.