Ever since GPS technology has been integrated into mobile phones, most people have become accustomed to reaching in their pockets for directions or to look at a map of their surroundings. And while most mobile map services require cellular service, more options are surfacing that feature embedded content that allows map access in remote areas like state and national parks.
The Pocket Ranger application, developed by New York City-based Parks by Nature Network, functions as a mobile, self-service tour package, said CEO Richard Dubi. By partnering with state parks departments, the Pocket Ranger app has access to in-depth maps of parks, trails, amenities and activities.
After downloading the free app, users can search by geographic location or category and any map or information they choose becomes cached to the phone — the benefit of the cache being that the content is then accessed without a cell signal. The app also has an alert feature for emergencies, Dubi explained, where the user sends out a distress signal that triangulates their location through satellite. Although the alert system does require a cell signal, Dubi said it offers those in a dire situation a chance to get help.
The application offers peace of mind to park-goers, Dubi said, as well as a tremendous marketing opportunity for businesses looking to expand their brand presence.
"The state park audience, people don't realize, is larger than Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL and the NHL combined," Dubi said. "Last year there were 351 million paid visits to state parks, that drills down to 85 million households."
The potential advertising muscle will also benefit the parks departments, Dubi said, as his company does a revenue share with the states to help fund projects and sustain the parks. Currently 25 states have signed on to participate in the parks program with Pocket Ranger, and Dubi expects to have that figure reaching 40 by next summer.