South Downs Way moves to digital age

Smartphone users will be able to take advantage of QR codes on the South Downs soon.

The National Park becomes the first in the country to test the codes.

The new technology incorporated into 40 new waypost signs set up at nine sites along the 100-mile South Downs Way.

It allow visitors to tap in to the signs and discover more information about the local area and nearby places of interest.

Andy Gattiker, trail officer for the South Downs Way, said,“There are fascinating landscapes across the National Park where it’s just not appropriate to put up large display panels.

“By tapping in to these small signs, smartphone users will be able to discover all sorts of information about the land they’re walking through. “People who unwrapped smartphones this Christmas can use them in a whole new way and help us discover whether this technology could be rolled out right across the South Downs National Park in the future.”

Andrew Kerry-Bedell of IT’s in Conservation has developed the technology being used,“The signs include QR codes and innovative Near Field Communication (NFC) Tags, the latter working in the same way as scanning your Oyster Card on the London Underground.

Visitors scanning the signs with their smartphone’s built-in camera and QR code reader, or an NFC Tag scanning app, are led to a specially designed mobile web page telling them all about the area.

Visitors can uncover map references, links to YouTube videos, photos, local history, audio commentary and information about the wildlife that lives nearby.

Buttons come up on the screen of the smartphone allowing people to select various options.

Hikers can then press each of the touchscreen buttons to instantly link to web, audio, video, pictures, map trails and other content at each location.