image for Bristol the first city in the UK to trial  iBeacons for large scale tourism location services

Bristol the first city in the UK to trial iBeacons for large scale tourism location services

Published on Monday, 15th September 2014
New technology, iBeacons, are being used in a trial to promote and enhance visitor experiences across city centre locations in Bristol.

New technology, iBeacons, will be used in a trial to promote and enhance visitor experiences across city centre locations in Bristol from July 2014.  Led by Digital Developer Shufdy Ltd, in conjunction with tourism body Destination Bristol, over 200 iBeacons will be located in and around the key tourism sites including the Brunel’s ss Great Britain, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and St Mary Redcliffe church.

iBeacons, a term coined by Apple, are new technology devices based on the new BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) 4.0 system that works along similar lines to GPS, however, the unique proposition of iBeacons is the ability to function both externally and internally.  iBeacons are low powered devices which have little impact on the users battery power - a distinct advantage over GPS.  To access the technology, people will need to download the Shufty app from the iTunes store when it is launched.

The app will recognise when it is close to one of the beacons and will allow the user to access a small amount of data relevant to the iBeacon.  Where possible, the user will then be able to visit the locations website.

Initially available for iOS7 devices, the app will also be produced for Android devices.  On launch, the app will be a prototype, but we will be adding locations, additional functionality and enhanced information as the project progresses.

Simon Richardson, Managing Director for Shufty Ltd said, “iBeacons are new to the UK and are currently only being used in trials within retail premises as well as individual visitor locations.  We are very excited to be bringing this technology to a large scale tourism based project, encompassing some of the iconic visitor locations in Bristol. Tourism is a natural fit for iBeacons and we see opportunities in proximity based guided tours and a reduction in printed brochures and guides.

Initially the user experience will be limited to basic information, but the data provided in the trial will be instrumental in ensuring that Bristol and its residents lead the way in this highly promising, location based technology solution. The ultimate aim is to develop interactive tours, and proximity based services incorporating live publicly available data. “

Kelly Ballard, Head of Marketing for Destination Bristol said, “We are delighted that Bristol is the first city to trial this new technology for tourism purposes. It has the potential to create an innovative visitor experience and we’re always looking at ways to help people have the best time in Bristol.”

Shufty will be experimenting with a handful of flag-ship tourism sites that will be complimented by the large scale coverage in certain areas.  These sites will feature multiple iBeacons and will demonstrate a vision of internal location based services.  Locations include Brunel’s  SS Great Britain, Clifton Suspension Bridge, St Mary Redcliffe, The City Museum and Art Gallery, M-Shed and even the Council Offices at City Hall.

The app is available for iOS7 devices now and an Android app is also in development and will follow at a later date. You can download the app from the iTunes app store by searching for 'Shufdy'.