Our cities are increasingly not only physical, but virtual. Here are three smartphone-enabled activities that will give you a completely different experience of the Mother City.
1. If walls could talk
Have you ever walked through an area unfamiliar to you and wondered at the history of events, passions and intrigues that the surrounding buildings or trees have witnessed, or what locals to the area are familiar with that you aren’t? Enter VoiceMap, an iPhone app designed to use GPS to recount geographically-relevant information and stories as you walk around.
For instance, the Mouille Point Promenade: A Maritime Meander Voicemap, by journalist and author Justin Fox, tells the story about Ingrid Jonker who lived nearby in Sea Point, among other stories in the fascinating 55 minute tour of the area.
Intimate introductions to urban areas like these is VoiceMap’s competitive edge and audio tours are available in a variety of cities across the world, including London (see this quirky lavatorial walking tour), Johannesburg (the Newtown Graffiti and Heritage Walk is a must) and other cities.
To save mobile data, download the VoiceMap app and selected story beforehand and then, using the available map, position yourself at the start of the map before pressing play.
Discover these VoiceMaps of Cape Town and let them tell different stories to the ones you’re used to:
- First Thursdays: Church Square
- The Company’s Garden
- My Design District
- Bo-Kaap walking tour
- Once Upon a Farm: A View of Oranjezicht
Next time you want to know what stories the nearby walls could tell, see if there is a VoiceMap of the area you’re in, or, if you’re in Cape Town follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with any new maps.
2. Geo-caching treasure
A pin, not an X, marks the spot on the Geocaching treasure map that is created by a community interested in placing (or tracking down) “caches” in accessible areas and marking the spot’s geo-coordinates on Geocahcing.com.
Equipped with a GPS-enabled cellphone or device, participants download these coordinates, and a series of hints, which then guide them to find the hidden box or parcel. There is normally a logbook available to record the names of successful geogachers, and the onus is on the person to return the cache in precisely the same place.
If this sounds like fun, download the official Geocaching app, pick your geocache, and join in – there are already 279 geocaches near Cape Town. The Mother City Meander Series works well as a walking or bus tour as the geocaches are situated along the Hop Off Red City Bus Tour.
3. Open street map, Cape Town
Maps – like all documents – date. Open Street Map is a public project to create a free and editable map of the world. This digital map is updated by people local to the area and who maintain the information about roads, cafes and all the other details that go into map making.
This type of map allows for free map making and area-specific information, shifting away from relying solely on official sources of information to populate maps. It’s run by a volunteer community of, among others, enthusiast mappers, GIS professionals and humanitarians mapping disaster-affected areas.
The data on the map is open source, and it is available through a creative commons licence.
- Do you know of more options for digital fun in Cape Town? Leave a comment and a link below.