AKRON, Ohio - Technology meets nature in the Summit County Metro Parks. Visitors now have new tools to enhance their experience.
Have you ever taken the family hiking in the Metro Parks and all of a sudden the worst happens, your child needs a restroom? Well, there's an app for that! Summit County Metro Parks recently introduced an innovative app for enhancing your visit while in any of their 14 parks and three main trails. It uses your smartphone's GPS to guide you to many of the park hot spots including the closest restroom.
Tim Hite is the lead designer, he helped create dozens of useful features.
"We offer downloadable park maps, we have a section about landmarks which are really points of interest people may not know about, there's all the activities, our swim areas are included, our picnic areas, our sports facilities, once you're in the park we give you all the tools you need to enjoy the experience," said Hite.
There are descriptions for 40 different trails that can be sorted by difficulty and distance. You can easily find the best birding and wildlife areas and learn how to feed a chickadee from your hand. The whole idea is to lead people to discover new areas.
"We've had some good feedback from visitors that through the app they discovered new activities, new trails, that they realize that we're actually in their own backyard that they have never visited before and this app revealed that to them," said Hite.
They included quick-to-call phone numbers to reach a park ranger, the park office or a volunteer. The app also features news and an extensive calendar of events that is updated daily. Links will take you to social media to post pictures or questions. The app replaces the need for paper maps and may someday free the park from so many information signs. Just one click will take you to more than 90 YouTube videos.
"When you're on the trail and you see something you want to know more about there is often a YouTube video to help with that," said Hite.
Users are excited when they learn about all this app can do.
"They'll come up to staff and say hey, I got the new app, it's great, it is kind of spreading virally from friends and family members that have downloaded the app," said Hite.
The free app is available for the Android and iPhone. There have already been about 2,000 downloads so far and park officials hope to that double by the end of the year.