Thanks in large part to primary project sponsor Dominion, more than 30 outdoor, interactive information stations, or "kiosks," have been installed in state parks across Virginia. The stations enable park guests to be the first in the nation to take virtual tours of the parks.
The stations allow park visitors to access GPS-based trail information, wildlife spotting guides, in-depth information on park amenities, printable guides and maps, program descriptions and schedules, details about nearby localities’ amenities and more. The stations also provide interactive virtual tours of every state park trail.
“The amount of information in this system really is amazing,” said Joseph H. Maroon, director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. “We’re using cutting-edge technology to enhance our guests’ visits to some of the state’s most beautiful outdoor landscapes. Not only do they provide information on the park and attractions around the park you are visiting, they can assist in making plans for future state parks visits.”
More than 5,000 state park images are included in the system. About 500 miles of park trails have been mapped and way-pointed with global positioning coordinates.
Dominion, headquartered in Richmond, Va., and one of the nation’s largest producers of energy, is the primary sponsor of the project.
Other partners, including Appalachian Power in the western part of the state, are helping offset the project’s $600,000 cost. These partners range from locally owned and operated shops and attractions to national brands. Dominion led the way by providing $300,000 from its philanthropic arm, the Dominion Foundation, as the statewide naming sponsor. The Virginia Association for Parks facilitated the grant, one of their several partnership projects with the energy company.
“This type of cutting-edge technology allows park visitors to experience in greater detail some of Virginia’s most beautiful locations,” said William C. Hall Jr., vice president of the Dominions’ Corporate Communications & Community Affairs and president of the Dominion Foundation. “We believe this will immensely increase the accessibility and popularity of Virginia’s State Parks. Dominion is proud to be able to help bring this feature to future park visitors.”
Imperial Multimedia of Baraboo, Wis., developed and helps manage the Virginia State Parks Interpretive Information System. The system utilizes the outdoor, weather and vandal-resistant, touch screen, interactive kiosks to provide guests with information about park offerings and local attractions around the clock. The proprietary information program builds on a system that has been successfully used in several Wisconsin State Parks. Virginia is the first state to offer the program statewide.
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine unveiled the first information kiosk in April 2007 at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. The park was selected for the unveiling because in 1936 it was one of the six original state parks opened and for its role in kicking off the celebration of America’s 400th birthday.
For more information on the activities and offerings of Virginia State Parks call toll-free 1-800-933-PARK (7275).