Salisbury: from Place Manager to Digital Placemaker

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4 minute read
Mary McCarron

Mary McCarron

Sales & Marketing Assistant

Digital Placemaking

Salisbury’s place managers are now creative digital placemakers thanks to the new Place Experience Platform. They are publishing bespoke visitor apps that share the stories of their city; creating meaningful connections between the place and its community. 

Salisbury is an attractive medieval city, but in 2018 – when a deadly nerve agent was discovered in its centre – the confidence of visitors and local people plummeted. When tourists returned, they visited the cathedral area and museum quarter, but very few ventured into the city centre. To restore social and economic stability, the Council team designed a recovery strategy to entice people back to the town centre. 

Key to their approach was community engagement. Town managers wanted to reassure the community, explore how they identified with the city, and how local people wanted the stories of their city to be told. To help, they turned to digital placemaking and a new, rich visitor experience product was imagined. Wiltshire Council then commissioned digital placemaking pioneers, Calvium, to make the vision a reality.

“We wanted to use a company that had placemaking at its centre and understood the importance of connecting with local communities, and connecting digital content with communities and the places and spaces, making them exciting.” Terry Bracher, Heritage Services Manager for Wiltshire Council

The new ‘Salisbury Trails’ visitor experience reveals aspects of Salisbury’s 800 year history, culture and built heritage – bringing to life the tales of the city’s people through compelling storytelling. The content strategy came from the community, historical and civic societies, and archivists who created a list of ‘five things to see in Salisbury’, which helped pinpoint the people, events and buildings to build stories around. 

As well as encouraging visitors and residents to connect with the city’s past, the app aims to increase engagement in the present day – to stop for coffee in the Market Square, pop to an independent shop, or appreciate architectural delights that they’ve frequently walked past. This adds value to the local economy as well as visitors’ experiences. The routes they travel are designed to be flexible – dipped into on a lunch break or spread over a few days’ exploration.

“The Salisbury Trails app is so flexible with the content management system. There’s an immediacy where we can add a story that ties in with an event that’s going on. It’s a very flexible tool.” Terry Bracher

Through a bespoke content management system (CMS), Wiltshire Council’s Heritage Services team controls the content and mapping of the trails themselves, such as ‘Witchcraft, Riots and Treason’. The flexible CMS enables layers of expansion. Already, there are plans to add new trails, ‘Historic Hostelries’ and a ‘Look-Up’ trail, showing quirky architectural features. Terry Bracher noted that further app functionality could enable tie-ins with businesses, delivering offers and information on local events, activities and festivals, adding even more value to users and the local economy.

“What’s been really good for us is that, of course, when you first have an idea of an app, you think ‘we can do so much.’ But you need that guiding hand that says actually, what is it you’re trying to achieve? Calvium have been really good at giving us some realistic expectations and exciting expectations, and also a method and methodology of how we might achieve them.’”  Terry Bracher

The Place Experience Platform has put control into the hands of those that know their location best, making the user experience more vibrant and engaging, and the connection between communities, visitors and place much deeper. Digital placemaking has been core to Calvium’s expertise for years. By developing the Place Experience Platform, Calvium has given place managers the power to be digital placemakers. 

If you would like to discuss how the Place Experience Platform could add value to your location, please get in touch with Calvium at hello@calvium.com or call 0117 226 2000.

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