by Sarah Meehan | Source: Baltimore Business Journal
Baltimore’s tourism agency will soon offer a comprehensive app that allows users to navigate a 3D spread of city streets side-by-side with information about tourist destinations across town. The program, known as Baltimore InSite, is tailored to include information about all of Visit Baltimore’s member hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore architecture firm, created the app after Visit Baltimore CEO Tom Noonan met with them about expanding the city’s Convention Center. After seeing a 3D rendering of the area surrounding the Convention Center, Noonan asked if it was possible create a 3D rendition of the entire city, and $40,000 later Baltimore InSite was born. Ayers Saint Gross used a combination of satellite, GIS and aircraft imaging to create the 3D map, which can be constantly updated as new buildings arise and others are torn down. The company is working to develop the app for other markets, including rival cities and universities, and claims its map of Baltimore if the first of its kind worldwide.
The app — currently only available as a website, virtual-destinations.com — updates every 24 hours with changes to Visit Baltimore’s database, so restaurants that change names or new buildings in the city will not be missed. Ayers Saint Gross is in the process of working with Apple and Android to create smart phone versions of the app, and could not give an estimate of when it would be ready for the public.
Noonan said the app will be useful as both a marketing tool and a tourism tool. Not only does it allow tourists to navigate the city, but it also sells the city to potential clients interested in bringing their meetings and events to Baltimore, he said. Potential visitors can search for rooms for conventions, find restaurants near their hotels and see nearby transportation options from the bird’s eye or a street view. Noonan can even create custom virtual tours to showcase local attractions that particular groups might be interested in, allowing new visitors to understand the lay of the land before they’ve set foot on it. “You’re walking there even though you’ve never been in the city before,” Noonan said.
The app can be applied to any organisation or city in the world and be custom designed to highlight attractions in a variety of sectors, including real estate, tourism destinations and school campuses.