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Constitution Hill Just Made Navigating SA's History A Lot Easier

Constitution Hill, one of South Africa’s most important heritage sites, has become even more accessible with the launch of an innovative app called the Constitution Hill Guide that allows visitors to tour its sprawling precinct with a virtual guide.

The Bluetooth-enabled app, the first of its kind to be deployed at a tourism and heritage site in South Africa, was developed for Constitution Hill by Flow Communications. The app, available from the iOS and Google App stores, allows visitors to take a tour of the precinct outside of normal tour hours and also provides augmented information about spaces at the living museum, which is right next to the Constitutional Court.

The app is also conveniently accessible offsite, allowing for potential visitors to familiarise themselves and navigate the precinct prior to their visit. The app includes a prompt upon opening that allows new visitors to get directions to the precinct.

Constitution Hill Development Agency CEO Dawn Robertson says it is exciting to be able to officially launch the app during the Basha Uhuru Freedom Fest, with the precinct currently thumping with the energy of a full range of concerts, film festivals, workshops, art exhibitions and dialogues.

“The timing couldn’t be better and we are delighted with the innovation that we have, together with our partners at Flow Communications, been able to bring to this most important site in South Africa,” Robertson says.

“We really needed something like this app because our precinct covers 27 acres, which can make it difficult to navigate. We needed to be able to expand the narrative of the history into new places and into different spaces,” says Robertson.

Flow has been a long-time partner of Constitution Hill, developing communications and innovative digital solutions with the museum for the past couple of years. Flow CEO Tara Turkington says the project was an exciting challenge for the company’s content, design and web and app development teams.

“This is just a fantastic project and our digital team did amazing work, work that we are all proud of …This is new, cutting-edge technology being applied in a really smart way,” she says. To solve some of the challenges presented by the project, Flow had to look beyond South Africa to find some of the technology required for the app to work. This included the specially imported Bluetooth-enabled beacons which together with the user’s device GPS can tell a visitor’s smartphone exactly where he or she is in the complex, so that the app can act as a virtual guide.

Robertson says that Constitution Hill is “an important place of memory, and we should not forget that it is also a place about South Africa’s future”. “The Constitution is approaching its 21st year and, as it comes of age, it also plays a more central role every day in the lives of the millions of South Africans whose freedoms it protects. More than ever we rely on our Constitution to protect our future, and that is what attracts so many millennials and young people here. This is a place of past history, but it is also a place of history making.”

Being part of a project that touches so much history and that will enhance the experience for so many visitors is something Flow is proud of, says Turkington. “Our motto at Flow is to do work we love, for clients we love. This inspires us to be part of these types of projects, where we are able to push innovation into new spaces and provide new experiences for people,” she says.

Adds Robertson: “Flow has been a fantastic, committed partner in this project. We have worked really well together, and we have achieved so much.”

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