Des Moines, IOWA (July 1, 2014) – The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) in partnership with West Des Moines-based Shift Interactive continues to further develop the already popular Iowa By Trail app, a mobile application designed to inform trail enthusiasts about the extensive trail network across the state.
According to Chirs Burns, Business Development Manager at Shift Interactive, new features are being refined and added every day. “Take, for instance, the mapping feature,” explains Burns. “We are continuing to work out bugs and making this a more dynamic feature of the app itself as we receive user feedback.” The mapping feature allows users to plot their course on a specific trail by using the phone’s GPS function. Also through the phone’s GPS system, the app allows users to locate the nearest trailhead when they are outside of a trail. The app provides turn-by-turn directions to access any trail.
Other innovative features of the app include social media integration to share and rate trail experiences as well as invite friends through users’ own social media channels; an on-screen indicator of the next point of interest (POI) on the trail, and indicating what specific activities are best represented by the trail (i.e. birdwatching, mountain biking, picnic areas, etc.); and the integrated news section that keeps users up to date with any events or news regarding the Iowa trail system. Push notifications are also sent out for important news like trail closures or grand openings of brand new trails.
“By incorporating all of these features into one app, we are able to give users a roadmap to plot out their own trail experience based on what they want to see,” explains Burns. “Users of the app can simply identify what they would like to do or see, and the app will tell them where to go and how to get there. Functions like the filtering by activity, trail surface or difficulty allow users to make the most informed decision about what they would like to experience on the trail.” Additional features include an interactive dashboard that allows users to “favorite” their top trails, and also gives a record of how many miles (or kilometers) and of what trails they have already completed.
For new users, there is a simply “walkthrough” feature, which informs them how to maximize their Iowa By Trail app experience. “The app is truly user-oriented, and allows folks to upload photos of trails, provide reviews, and even check weather in their area from within the app,” says Burns.
Trail information is being compiled by INHF, and updates continue to be made in preparation for the statewide rollout of the app at RAGBRAI, the annual weeklong cycling festival across the state of Iowa. This app was made possible through the Metropolitan Planning Authority, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and several private citizens.
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit, conservation group that works with private landowners and other partners to protect Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect more than 130,000 acres of Iowa’s wild places.