The fundamentals:

Town Teams How To guide - COMING SOON!

Digital in transport and the public realm

From a customer perspective, it is likely that the first opportunity that they will have to interact with a town centre will be during their journey to it and then on foot once they have arrived.  In order to give them the most useful and enjoyable experience, it is now possible to engage with them via their mobile devices and provide information, interactions and offers in a non-intrusive manner through their expressed preferences on mobile apps and mobile-optimised websites.  With all mobile devices being able to connect via 3G, soon the much faster 4G and of course Wi-Fi, town centre customers can find out what they want at any stage of their journey.

Examples of public realm and transport digital schemes

Excerpts from Zaragoza’s Digital Mile: Place-Making in a New Public Realm   
“Throughout history the public realm has combined physical form with mediums of expression…Great public spaces also enable personal and public communications and exchange of goods, information, emotions and ideas—and therefore become imbued with meaning for the people who claim them, and for the cities in which they are located.

Perhaps the most obvious example involves the ubiquitous presence of wireless access to the Internet. Of course, this is the key to accessing the responsive elements described above. But it can also add a layer of functionality to public spaces and parks, enabling them to be used for work, education, and other activities …… through location-based wireless services. For example, visitors may be able to access information related to history, tours, and nearby restaurants at certain sites (or on certain streets) and nowhere else.

A final example involves the incorporation of digital capabilities into the everyday objects of the city. This, too, has always occurred in traditional public spaces—as awnings are unfurled when it rains, or decorations are put up for celebrations. But digital space can be far more sensitive to the needs of users. In particular, street furniture— lights, tables, awnings, umbrellas, decorations and fountains—can play a key role in making space responsive…….All of this will be facilitated in the near future by the advent of radio frequency identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags that will communicate information to the furniture about you and the level of access you desire.”

http://designobserver.com/media/pdf/Zaragozas_Dig_427.pdf

Public transport gets smart

“If you have recently undertaken one of the 25 million trips made to, from or within London each day, the chances are you used an Oyster smartcard to swipe in and out of trains, buses or, perhaps, the cable car in Docklands.


Other "intelligent transport" systems in use in London include new contactless payment technology, known as "pay-and-wave", which went live at the end of 2012 and could one day replace the Oyster card. Paying the capital's congestion charge via the internet, or using an access fob to hire bikes from the city's popular cycle-hire scheme, are yet further examples.
Some of these systems, particularly the Oyster card, have become so commonplace that many people in the capital barely stop to consider just how much it has simplified their daily commute. But experts are becoming increasingly concerned that, outside of London, local authorities are failing to recognise the potential benefits of deploying IT to improve their transport networks.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/public-leaders-network/2013/jan/09/centro-public-transport-travel-systems


Reading Buses and MoLo deliver the digital high street

“Reading Buses is working with innovative loyalty provider, MoLo Rewards, to give coupons from local independent retailers to users of the simplyBus prepaid fare cards. Reading Buses offers a simplyBus smartcard which consumers are able to buy in advance of their journey.  Some 22,500 cards are in use across the Reading area, with a further 25,000 concessionary bus permits.  The cards are contactless “smart cards” like London’s Oyster Card. When tapped on a contactless reader in a participating shop, the card is recognized and a pop-up window appears on the till screen listing all offers or coupons that the card user has in their MoLo account. Offer redeemed. It’s great for the retailers, as their offers can now connect with many thousands of local people.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2XG4eiZlEc


Communications and marketing

Making your existing website work on a range of mobile devices – possibly the best investment you can make right now.

“…consumers are quick to reward retailers for positive mobile experiences, with slightly more than three-quarters of smartphone and tablet owners saying they often return to websites that are visually appealing and function well on their devices. They’re also quick to punish those who don’t do such a good job…”

http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/interactive/smartphone-and-tablet-owners-respond-to-mobile-optimized-sites-29905/

Redlab’s Digital High Street 2013 blog   http://digihighst.com/blog/

Basic free tools:

Get yourself a website in 10 minutes  http://en.support.wordpress.com/getting-started/
Be found on Google www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness
Manage several social media accounts https://hootsuite.com/
Get started with Pay Per Click advertising https://adwords.google.com/
Find your best key words for search optimisation http://www.googlekeywordtool.com/
Online file storage  https://www.dropbox.com/home
Email management tool http://mailchimp.com/
Good list of basic digital tools - http://www.communityhowto.com/
QR code generator - http://www.qrstuff.com/qr_stuff.html
Free app-builder tool - http://www.infinitemonkeys.mobi/
Take card payments - https://www.izettle.com/gb
Digital marketing hub - http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/