In 2016, Google approached the Foundation to see if we would do a pilot project to test some geofencing technology they were using to provide signage on their campuses around the U.S. At the same time, the City of Kirkland was looking for ways to provide signage for vegetation along the Cross Kirkland Corridor (‘CKC’). The Foundation agreed to pilot the technology, with the idea that if it was successful, the city could expand the program.
Google provided us a grant which enabled us to install and implement 15 beacons along the CKC. To use the system, the user had to download a free app on their smart phone and adjust their Bluetooth settings to allow the app access to their current location. When the user traveled the trail and came near a beacon with the app open, a picture card would appear on their phone. If the app was closed, the user would receive a notification. While each picture card could be viewed immediately, it could also be saved in the user’s inbox for future reference. To delete picture cards from the inbox the user simply had to swipe right-to-left.
Originally the beacons highlighted news about the CKC’s Master Plan. It was contemplated that over time, users would be able to receive more information about the area’s history, environment, fitness opportunities, and more.
HOW IT WORKED
Each beacon simply emitted a signal that linked to the City’s webpage and accessed information about that specific location on the CKC. The user’s smart phone would receive a download of the picture card with a photo and information about the location directly from the City’s website.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How close did you need to be to the beacon to receive the Picture Card?
It varied by how strong the Bluetooth is on your phone—anywhere from 10 feet to 30 feet.
Would my private information be accessible?
The beacons did not have the capability of accessing information from your phone. They only could emit a signal which linked to the City’s website and the information from that site only traveled one-way (to your smart phone).
Would I be able to view the beacon information if I do not have an Android or iPhone?
Yes, you could view the beacon information by going to the CKC Beacon Project page on the City website.
How often will the content be updated?
We will be working on new content once the pilot program with the Cross Kirkland Corridor Master Plan is up and running. We don’t have a fixed date of when the next content will be added but will let you know as soon as we do.
Why don’t I see the KPF kite logo signs marking the beacons any more?
It was a pilot program that was eventually cancelled as we found that the technology was not as robust as we would have hoped.
However, the good news is that as a result of our work with Google and the City of Kirkland on this project, we moved on to the next generation of technology and collaborated on the KITE STEM Challenge in 2018 which was extremely successful.