The Town of Leesburg has won statewide recognition for its walking tour app.
The Virginia Municipal League presented the town with its Lifelong Learning award, one of five categories presented by VML for excellence in local government. Each category recognizes innovative problem-solving, excellence in management, citizen participation, and improved services to citizens. Leesburg was awarded for its walking tour app, which allows residents and visitors to download a free app on their smart phone or tablet for touring the downtown.
The town’s app, developed by OnCell Systems, provides text, pictures, full narration of each site included on the tour, and even video clips to enhance the experience. Visitors can use the app’s map to select a location to start the tour or they can begin at stop #1 and follow the stop-by-stop directions to each site. The app is integrated with Google maps and it also has a geo-location feature that alerts users to tour stops as they around town.
The first two tours launched by the town were the “Highlights of Historical Leesburg” and the “African-American History Tour. ” The Highlights of Historical Leesburg tour features the most significant events, architecture, and famous residents, so visitors can get a high-level understanding of the unique aspects of Leesburg. The African-American History Tour provides detailed information on Leesburg’s African-American experience from the first settlement to the mid-1900s. Stops include historically black neighborhoods, churches, and schools, along with prominent figures in Leesburg’s African-American community. The town hopes to add additional tours in the coming years; requested tours include a focus on the Civil War in Leesburg and downtown architecture.
“The walking tour app provides an opportunity for residents and visitors to get out and explore and learn about the places and events that shaped Leesburg’s history. Having a more connected and educated citizenry will lead to a greater appreciation for historic preservation in our community along with a stronger civic connection to the town and its government,” stated Deputy Town Manager Keith Markel.
VML received nearly 70 entries, from which a panel of judges selected one winner in each of five categories. The awards will be presented at the 2018 VML Annual Conference in Hampton in October.
For more information about the Innovation Awards, visit vml.org/education/innovation-awards. The TourLeesburg app is available via the App Store and Google Play.