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National Park Service launches digital kiosk to promote 407 parks, landmarks

Next year, the National Park Service marks its hundredth year. At it prepares for that moment, the NPS has launched an interactive kiosk that gives people a quick glimpse at the 407 parks and landmarks the NPS manages. The kiosk launched in New York City (April 2-3), and will travel next to Los Angeles (April 9-10) and Washington, D.C. (April 16-17), with other locations and dates to be announced.

A musical installation complements the Find Your Park Virtual View Kiosk, which uses audio, visual, and geo-location elements to create a one-minute musical experience. The kiosk itself provides info on the 407 units the NPS manages, which, besides parks, includes historic landmarks and monuments; the kiosk also “connects visitors directly to National Park Service staff, influencers, and park-goers at national parks across the country,” the NPS says. Part of the larger Find Your Park marketing campaign to promote the parks (which incorporates an online component, among other activities) the kiosk is designed to engage with people by using technology; not only does it inform about the parks system, but people can share stories about their experiences at an NPS managed park.

“When the National Park System was created in 1916, no one would have imagined that technology could someday enable schoolchildren in New York to explore parks thousands of miles away with the touch of a button,” says U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “While we never want a virtual experience to replace a genuine connection, we are hopeful the display will provide a gateway that inspires people to visit their parks and fall in love with the beauty, history and culture that make up our national parks and public lands.”

“There are diverse parks and historic sites across the nation, and with each stop on the Find Your Park Virtual View Tour, we’re connecting them with more Americans than ever before,” says NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Tap the screen and within seconds you’ll be speaking with a ranger or park visitor at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming or at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia and exploring what the park has to offer in real-time.”

Jewell and Jarvis were joined by actress Bella Thorne at the New York City unveiling, who serves as one of the campaign’s Centennial Ambassadors (the centennial campaign is chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush).

“Technology is a great way for my generation to connect with national parks,” Thorne says. “I can’t believe that this tour makes it possible for me to stand in the middle of New York City and talk to a park ranger at Golden Gate National Recreation Area!”

Of course, the whole point of these this digital endeavor is to get people to visit the actual parks and monuments.