Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to Develop Mobile Application for Parks

Funded by UPMC Health Plan

Oct 19, 2012, 15:00 ET from UPMC Health Plan

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is developing a free mobile application to be used in Pittsburgh's parks. Funding is being provided by UPMC Health Plan and the app will be designed by the Pittsburgh-based firm Deeplocal. The app will provide information to help users navigate and enjoy Pittsburgh's five largest city parks: Schenley, Frick, Highland, Riverview and Emerald View. The app will be in the testing phase this fall and winter, and is expected to launch in spring of 2013.

The app will make Pittsburgh's parks more accessible and user-friendly, especially to those who are not experienced park users.  "The main goal behind this exciting new app is to engage more people in our large parks," said Meg Cheever, Parks Conservancy President and CEO. "Trails and heavily wooded areas offer some of the best park experiences and opportunities for exercise and enjoyment, but these areas can also be the most daunting for someone not familiar with our large urban parks. We see this mobile app as a real game changer in that regard."

The app is being funded by UPMC Health Plan as an extension of the Parks are Free advertising campaign, an initiative launched by the Health Plan, Parks Conservancy and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in 2009 to promote healthy lifestyles through park use. The marketing effort is based on the common belief that active park use leads to a healthier lifestyle and healthier communities. The partnership between UPMC Health Plan and the Parks Conservancy promotes the City's parks as a resource for improving the health of the Pittsburgh community. Through this mobile app, the intention is to have a positive impact on increased physical activity and appreciation for Pittsburgh urban green spaces.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy surveyed its members while creating the concept; information collected drove early functionality of the app. When asked how respondents would use an app in the park, more than 90% of the respondents indicated park trail information and navigation were priorities, making it the app's main feature. Other desired features include finding restrooms, learning about events in the parks, and reporting park problems.  Teams of Parks Conservancy volunteers are going beyond directional navigation and distance by offering first-person trail descriptions, such as unique views and features, and whether trails are appropriate for bikes or strollers.

City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl stated, "Our parks are one of the main reasons we have been named a most-livable city, and I am excited about this effort to engage more residents in the health benefits our parks offer.  Additionally, the free park app is another example of a strong local partnership doing great things for Pittsburgh. The partnership between the City, the Parks Conservancy and UPMC Health Plan benefits residents as well as visitors to Pittsburgh."

Deeplocal, a Pittsburgh-based innovation studio that has received international recognition for its work, is designing the mobile app. Deeplocal is internationally known for such unique projects as the Nike Chalkbot, and locally known for projects such as the ParkPGH app, which helps drivers find open parking spaces Downtown.

Contest to Name the App
The Parks Conservancy is offering the public a chance to choose the name of the application by voting for their favorite app name or making a suggestion. The contest is being hosted on UPMC Health Plan's Facebook page and voting is open until November 15. Participants will be entered to win an iPad with the winner selected by random drawing.  To vote, go to facebook.com/UPMCHealthPlan.

About The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1996 to improve quality of life for the people of Pittsburgh by restoring the park system to excellence in partnership with the City. Restoration efforts are conducted with environmental sensitivity and respect for historic landscape design and the recreational needs of modern users.  Learn more at www.pittsburghparks.org.

About UPMC Health Plan
UPMC Health Plan, the second-largest health insurer in western Pennsylvania, is owned by UPMC, an integrated global health enterprise. The integrated partner companies of the UPMC Insurance Services Division – which includes UPMC Health Plan, UPMC WorkPartners, LifeSolutions (EAP), UPMC for You (Medical Assistance), and Community Care Behavioral Health – offer a full range of group health insurance, Medicare, Special Needs, CHIP, Medical Assistance, behavioral health, employee assistance, and workers' compensation products and services to nearly 1.8 million members. Our local provider network includes UPMC as well as community providers, totaling more than 125 hospitals and more than 11,500 physicians throughout Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. For more information, visit www.upmchealthplan.com.

About Deeplocal

Deeplocal is an internationally acclaimed innovation studio that builds compelling experiences that link the real and online worlds and provoke conversation. Deeplocal spun out of the world's leading robotics school, Carnegie Mellon University, and has been instrumental in shaping innovation in the ad industry. In less than three years, the organization has received awards that include AdAge Small Agency of the Year Northeast, Communication Arts Best of Interactive, One Club Best of the Decade, and Print Magazine Regional Design Award.