Medieval meets modern

Digital signs are being installed across the city of Ely as part of a joint initiative designed to celebrate our medieval city using the latest modern technology.

East Cambridgeshire District Council has teamed up with Visit Ely and the City of Ely Council to install 13 digital information points which go live in June.

They’ll use smart touchscreen technology – linked to the free public Wi-Fi and a dedicated Visit Ely app – to benefit residents, tourists, businesses, and the environment.

As well as navigating people through the beautiful city using web mapping platforms like Google Maps, users will be able to easily search for the latest information on local shops and businesses.

Details of key events will be available to view at a glance and, if push notifications are requested, businesses can use the app to offer discounts and promotions.

Interesting facts and information will be uploaded by Visit Ely, enabling people to follow new historical routes around the city centre.

And a gamification feature will provide an element of fun with treasure hunts and quizzes.

The new technology is being installed by East Cambridgeshire District Council with a £240,000 grant from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority designed to help boost the local economy.

Once the digital signs and the accompanying mobile apps for Android and Apple are up and running they will be officially handed over to Visit Ely, which is managed by the City of Ely Council.

Cllr Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “We are delighted to be part of this amazing Medieval Meets Modern project which uses the latest smart technology to help showcase and promote our historic city.

“Research shows that many people who visit Ely tend to do so for one thing – such as visit the Cathedral, attend Ely Markets, or walk along the riverbank – and then go home again. Yet there is so much more to our beautiful city.

“This new technology is easy to use and also fully accessible to people who do not have mobile phones or tablets.

“Visitors will be able to use it to explore all areas of the city and find out more about the businesses and services we have on offer, while finding out more about our rich cultural heritage.”

Anna Bennett, manager of Visit Ely, which is part of the City of Ely Council, said: “We are delighted to support and manage the “Medieval meets modern” project which enhances and highlights both those very words!

“The team, which is based at the Tourist Information Centre, is very proud as we move forward into modern times to enhance and expand every visitor experience and, of course, benefit our local community at the same time.”

The signs, which have been located in collaboration with the Conservation officer, will be available for public use in June. The supporting app is currently being pre-loaded with essential information about the city but it is expected this will increase over time.

If the app is successful it has the potential to extend the boundary to include other areas of the district.

Help us shape Ely’s new app

Would you like to have the opportunity to be one of the first users to tell us how you would like the app to be shaped?

We’re asking local residents – those who really know and love Ely – to help create content for the new app.

In particular we are encouraging local shops and businesses to submit information about their premises.

You may also have ideas about information that can be included on the app, for example such as highlighting where defibrillators are located or where to access disabled toilets.

It may be that you know an interesting fact or have an exciting story you want to share.

Or it may be that you are a keen local photographer and would like to share some of your images.

Whatever your ideas, please get in touch to discuss how we can make them a reality.

Where possible we will use the information to enhance the app for the benefit of all members of the community.