How Hill in Norfolk pioneers mobile phone tourist app

With its picture postcard views of river and marshland it is one of the best-loved spots on the Broads.

Now the hordes of visitors to How Hill national nature reserve near Ludham can enjoy the splendid setting all the more by using the latest mobile phone technology.

The Broads has become the first member of the national parks family to offer hi-tech landscape interpretation to the growing number of people with smart phones.

A free app called Layar can be downloaded from, instantly transforming visitors' smart phones - Androids, iPhone 4s and iPhone 3Gs - into their personal guide.

Simply pointing their phone at a point of interest, anything from quaint Toad Hole Cottage to the Broads Authority's Electric Eel pleasure boat, will bring up comprehensive guide book information.

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The innovative project has been developed using �4,700 of EU money through its STEP (Sustainable Tourism in Estuary Parks) programme.

Karen Sayer, the Broads Authority's design and information supervisor, said: 'We knew we had this money from STEP to pilot a project using new technology and I got together with Simon Byford, a design and interpretation expert, to look at what might be possible.

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'We want to encourage young people to become passionate about the Broads so they will look after this unique area for generations to come - and what better way to connect with this hard-to-reach audience than by phone.

'These are still early days but the number of people with smart phones is increasing all the time.'

She said another big plus for using such technology was that it meant you did not have to spoil the landscape with signs and interpretation panels.

The information available focuses on 25 points of interest around the site; a free ebook is also available on the website.

Mr Byford, of Norwich-based Ugly Studios, said it had been exciting to work on a project that had the potential to be rolled out across the Broads; over time it could even be refined by offering information changing from season to season.

Neil Dabson, of Neontribe in Norwich, which worked on the technical side, said the technology had hitherto mainly been used in marketing and it was rewarding to have pioneered its use in interpretation. Holidaymakers Anja Wright and Gemma McDonald, stopping at How Hill during a four-day boating excursion declared the technology a brilliant idea.

Gemma, from Brighton, said: 'It would be really good to see it expanded to take in the whole of the Broads.'

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