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Building a Walking Tour App to Increase Knowledge and Empathy for Complex Historical Sites

Using a wide range of third party software tools and services we have built a customizable walking tour Android app that integrates Geographic Information Systems and archival content. The first iteration of the app has been demonstrated on the site of District Six in Cape Town, where some 60,000 people of color were forcibly removed and their homes, business, and social institutions were demolished by the apartheid government. The app guides users through the historically erased landscape and allows them to understand what used to exist at specific geolocations through a series of descriptive text and historical visual imagery. Users can even use a “slider” to line up and compare the contemporary landscape with the historical built environment before it was demolished. We feel that the affective impact of the erased landscape and what was lost is rendered more meaningful by guiding users to the exact location where homes, houses of worship, business, and social institutions once stood. The app is currently being piloted by the District Six Museum as a tool to train a new generation of walking tour guides. More broadly, the app is designed to be site independent, meaning any physical landscape / location can be used as the basis for a walking tour and where creators can incorporate their own unique sites, points of interest, maps, content, and stories.


4:10 PM
10 minutes