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Nature goes mobile
Ramsey County introduces web app for parks and recreation facilities
Last week, Ramsey County unveiled a new mobile web application for its GoRamsey interactive parks and recreation mapping website.
The original desktop site, www.goramsey.org, allows users to search for all parks and recreation facilities located in Ramsey County, as a part of the Active Living Ramsey Communities initiative. These include not only county-operated parks and recreational facilities, but municipal facilities as well.
Coordinator Connie Bernardy explained that Active Living Ramsey Communities is a coalition of community leaders, health practitioners and residents who have joined forces to promote physical activity in Ramsey County. The interactive map functions as a way for residents to be aware of nearby facilities and amenities to motivate them to be active.
“Research shows that if people are aware of the facilities available to them, they’re more likely to use them and be physically active,” Bernardy said. “If they know what to expect, they’re more likely to use (the facilities).”
The interactive map can be customized to specific users’ wants and needs. For example, a user can search for parks that are nearby, parks with specific amenities or other Ramsey County facilities like beaches, golf courses or bicycle and walking trails.
Additionally, users can report problems in the parks to the correct governing body directly from the website or application.
“A lot of the time, people won’t know which government the park belongs to. This way, if they want to report something that needs to be fixed, they won’t have to guess about who to call — they just have to click a button to describe the problem and it’ll get where it needs to go,” Bernardy explained.
Scott, Carver and Anoka counties also have online interactive mapping tools for their parks and recreation facilities. Anoka County also offers a similar mobile web application.
The full desktop website was launched during the summer of 2011. Brian Fischer, head of the site’s engineering team from Houston Engineering in Maple Grove, explained that certain components of the mapping tool were not accessible on mobile devices.
“The original technology (the interactive map) had a plug-in called Silverlight, which isn’t available on smart phones and tablets,” Fischer said.
“Ramsey County wanted people to be able to access that information from their smart phones and other mobile devices,” Fischer added.
The mobile project began in October 2012, with field tests occurring in December.
Fischer, a father of three, understands the importance of having information regarding parks available at the palm of your hand.
“We’re always looking for new playgrounds and parks. It’s nice to be able to use my smart phone to find that information.”
The mobile version of the interactive map can be accessed by visiting www.goramsey.org and clicking “Enter mobile.”
For more information about the Active Living Ramsey Communities initiative, visit parks.co.ramsey.mn.us/ALRC.
Johanna Holub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-748-7814.