History in the streets: Authoring Templates for City Strata

Blue Plaque Walk: an additional example to the "Cinemap layer" to test out. Please test this if you have an iPhone or Android phone and provide feedba

The inspiration for City Strata is the ability to visualise different historical layers of interest that exist within cities. Examples of these “virtual strata”, or v.s for short are: historic cinemas, famous people (blue plaques), churches, protests and so on. For each v.s significant places can be documented and dramatically annotated using a web interface to a geographic information system (GIS). This geo-spatial data can then be presented through apps in a compelling way to bring history alive in places where it actually happened.

To achieve this vision we are exploring an authoring template approach so that anyone with an interest in a particular v.s can add information about places that they have researched or are knowledgeable about. The idea of the template is that it will give an easy and uniform way of cataloging the data so that it can be presented in a uniform and compelling way within the app. It also makes the apps scaleable, they can cover a whole city, country or even the world.

The primary v.s that is being explored within the REACT project is the ‘Cinemap’ layer. An early prototype interface has been tested and feedback will now lead to a revision of the design. In the prototype the information in the app is stored on the “Know your place” Bristol City Council GIS and fetched into the template app design. 

We would also appreciate feedback on a second example.  As part of his Masters course in History at Bristol University, James Higgs, who is specialising in Public History, worked with Calvium on a work experience project. He developed a “Blue Plaque walk” to demonstrate how physical signs in the landscape could act as triggers for “history in the moment”. James created a prototype app that has a template design intended to work for every Blue Plaque. 

Each plaque has 

A picture, some introductory text plus an audio story, a “Did you Know” fact and a chance to get more more information.

In the more information screen there is more text a further audio story and photos.

The idea is that there would be a web interface, perhaps an extension of the http://openplaques.org/ Open Plaques initiative where people could add the required elements for the template. 

Please try out the prototype to let us know your thoughts on the idea and the template itself.

To download the app your first need to download the AppFurnace player which you 

Get for iPhone here :


iPhone AppFurnace PlayerOr Android here :

Android AppFurnace Player

Once you have the AppFurnace player then press the + button and scan this barcode :

Blue Plaque Walk

Feedback can be given from the app itself or from this link. https://qtrial.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6JqoZQcEHmnDZs0

In addition to feedback on the interface the broader questions to consider are:

How open should the platform be? If people add their own stories what authority do they have to dramatise history?

What recourse must there be in the platform to amend audio or video stories? In wikipedia it is relatively easy to modify text, but modifying audio or video is not practical. Would a simple comment function and rating be sufficient?

Please let us know your views.