RBG walk? There's an app for that TheSpec.com - Local - RBG walk? There's an app for that
Jenni Dunning, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jun 9, 2010)
Lush walking trails, waterfalls and rarely seen turtles can all be found in Hamilton's back yard -- and at your digital fingertips.
Hikers, bird watchers and outdoor lovers now have Geotrail, a new high-tech interactive tool to help them map out routes on the Royal Botanical Gardens' 27 kilometres of walking trails.
"There's this growing ability to use online mapping to do all sorts of things," said Geotrail co-founder Paul Shaker. "One niche that we saw could be improved was the outdoor experience and outdoor education."
The Hamilton company created the web service that allows people to plan walking routes based on distance, difficulty level, scenery and duration. It's part of a growing wave of handheld technology applications, or apps, that connect users with the Internet anywhere they go, even the woods.
"This whole area is picking up steam," Shaker said. "It's making the computer more human friendly. It goes where you want to go."
Since Geotrail was launched at the RBG on May 21, the website has received more than 1,000 hits and is getting linked on Facebook pages, he said. Shaker said he has also received interest from other provinces about creating trail maps, and even urban trails in cities with historical landmarks.
Many people have responded positively about the educational aspect of the site, he said.
"You don't just have a dot on a map," Shaker said. "To be able to compare (nature walks) in real time before you head out, you really get a sense of knowledge."
Geotrail also promotes local trails and natural land that don't get much recognition, Shaker added.
That's partly what attracted the RBG to the project because it's much more well-known for its rose and tulip gardens, said Lee Oliver, RBG communications manager.
When Geotrail's Shaker and business partner Gallisedo Bae approached the RBG about the project a couple months ago, "we jumped on it," he said.
"We've been talking about ... how can we better promote the trails to people," Oliver said.
"There's so much amazing technology out there. We're definitely going down that route."
Check out Geotrail on the RBG's website: rbg.geotrail.ca.