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GeoVation winners, Helen and Nicola Steer’s idea for a mobile app to help visitors to the Wales Coast Path to find the best local, sustainable and delicious food was awarded funding in the 2012 Wales Coast Path GeoVation Challenge. They wanted to connect them to local businesses and communities, benefiting those who live and work along the route and showcasing local food. However, the ‘solution’ came with its own problem: working around the poor mobile reception along the route, particularly in West Wales.
After receiving funding the sisters formed Mapkin, a small company based in South Wales and London, which uses mapping and technology to create and support social change. Mapkin’s team of five worked to develop the app; collecting data, coding, mapping and designing the user interface. The iPhone® app, Real Food Wales, was released as a pilot in Pembrokeshire in time for summer 2013.
Real Food Wales utilises Mapkin’s unique network of local knowledge and the interactive map (with five zoom levels) which uses OS OpenData products, including OS VectorMap®, OS Street View®, Boundary-Line™, OS Strategi® and Land-Form PANORAMA®, showcases over 150 of the best food businesses in Pembrokeshire.
A unique feature of the app is that it stores an offline map of Pembrokeshire onto the device, so users can access information when there is no mobile signal. Users can choose between a map or list display of nearby food businesses, and filter results by places to eat out, buy your own or food experiences. Entries include a description, opening hours, location, contact details and directions. The app features social media integration and a ‘favourites’ function. Real Food Wales is a great example of how mapping, geography and innovation can help boost businesses and communities.
The team are currently in talks with regional tourist boards and councils in Wales to bring the app to a wider area. The working pilot version of the app helps Mapkin enormously: it clearly shows functionality to potential clients and even those with no technology background see the benefits. The core functionality of Real Food Wales is also being used in other ways: some of the team are developing a version of the app for use by local currencies (such as the Brixton pound). This will highlight places where local currency is accepted, enable pay-by-text and allow participating businesses to send out offers. Mapkin are also looking at making a related app mapping all of London’s food and farmer’s markets.
I would like to thank Ordnance Survey and the GeoVation Challenge for believing in our idea. Without their support and funding we would not be where we are today. I am really excited about the future of Real Food Wales and look forward to expanding the app to include many other areas along the Welsh Coast Path.’ Helen Steer, Mapkin.
Find out more about Real Food Wales at www.mapkin.co.uk/realfoodwales