Visitors to Belfast’s Maritime Mile from today will get a chance to see previously silent landmarks like the Big Fish ‘wake up’ and anyone with a mobile phone can strike up a conversation and hear what they have to say!

‘Hello Maritime Mile’ is a pilot ‘smart city’ project between Belfast City Council, Titanic Foundation, Tourism NI, Ulster University (UU) and Hello Lamp Post which will run for 6 weeks until St Patrick’s Day (17 March). The R & D (Research and Development) collaborative project aims to animate a tourist area in the city centre creating a ‘playable city experience’ for tourists and locals.

Maritime Mile Belfast

Starting at the Big Fish on Donegall Quay, people will be able to ‘chat’ with objects along the stretch which finishes at the HMS Caroline in Alexandra Dock including SS Big Fish Nomadic, Titanic Belfast, Belfast Harbour and The Great Light. With an SMS enabled phone, they can say ‘Hello’ –  sending a text to the particular landmark, for example, ‘Hello Big Fish’, and have fun conversations with each object.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, joined city partners to launch the innovative tourism offering.

“Belfast City Council is delighted to take part in this exciting pilot project which aims to animate the Maritime Mile and engage both visitors and residents of the city to learn more about the notable landmarks that are located along the scenic riverside stretch,” she said.

“It not only brings together our city partners and us to collaborate on the project but our teams within Council – Tourism, Culture & Arts; Smart Cities & City Innovation and Events, to work to enhance the visitor experience in Belfast by exploring how technology can contribute to this, while also progressing our Smart City agenda.”

Maritime Mile Belfast

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, said: “This is a fantastic partnership initiative encouraging visitors and local people to engage with the city’s iconic heritage waterfront in a unique and fun way.  There is huge scope to animate different parts of the area through play, storytelling, spontaneous happenings and surprising use of space. We look forward to seeing everyone engaging with the objects along the Maritime Mile.”

Claire Sharpe, Digital Business Analyst with Tourism NI, said: “New technologies have transformed how visitors can engage with a destination and enable the tourism industry to look at creative and innovative ways to deliver experiences for our visitors which are authentic, compelling and memorable.

“Tourism-technology partnerships such as this one help the tourism industry in Northern Ireland to connect with new audiences and encourage visitors to explore beyond our most popular attractions to discover more about the area that surrounds them.”

Dr Joe Rafferty, from UU School of Computing, said: “Hello Maritime Mile will enable a smart and interactive Belfast providing an added attraction for visitors and locals alike. Ulster University is excited to be a part of this project with our fantastic partners.”

Tiernan Mines, CEO of Hello Lamp Post said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in this project. The mile has such a rich cultural history – we’re excited to bring these stories to life for citizens and visitors alike, to continually experience and interact with.

“Hello Maritime Mile is new territory for us, both in terms of working with such a great variety of partners on a cultural application of Hello Lamp Post, as well the first Hello Lamp Post deployment in this region.

“This is the start of an exciting journey for us in Belfast and beyond – aiming to help citizens and visitors to see the city in a new light and to feel more included. And ultimately, helping to bridge the gap between citizens and their city.”

For more information on Hello Maritime Mile, visit the Smart Belfast website at www.smartbelfast.city/hello

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