Museum on the Street: Building A Community Digital Heritage Exchange in Hastings, UK

Jon Pratty, School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex, UK

Published paper: Museum on the Street: Building a community digital heritage exchange in Hastings, UK

In Hastings, UK, a small coastal town with high unemployment but extensive arts and cultural heritage resources, we have been working for two years to build a small-scale broadband environment to house and deliver arts and heritage content in new ways. Across the Internet of Things (IoT) community in the UK, there’s now lots of interest in so-called LPWAN solutions to deliver connectivity for IoT projects and innovations, but few projects are aiming at the heritage and museums sector. We have tried to envision what local needs there are, listening to artists, archivists, writers, and the library. Can we create a connectivity resource that offers flexible hosting for heritage use, for new arts businesses, and for locative experimentation with museum objects, perhaps even creating a new IoT environment for historic data delivery? Our work so far has included development of strategies for delivery of historic digital materials via a data environment, presented to local councils, funders, and stakeholders. Working with our Technical partner, TechnologyBox Ltd, we have deployed substantial parts of the connectivity environment, though not at this point using LPWAN. A live dashboard tracks and evaluates audience flow around our three small-town streets. Arts and literary events, commissioned to demonstrate the capacity and measurability of the environment, are hinting that we can offer cultural funders and sponsors new insights into visitor engagement and behavior. Now we are keen to reel in local business partners and major funders who can underwrite our heritage and arts program, which will be delivered by curators, storytellers and artists using the WiFi envelope we have built across a triangle of three interlocking streets. What we are trying to do is offer a data and connectivity playing field for others to use to shape new kinds of historic and creative experience. A museum on the streets, found using your own device, wrapped by WiFi.

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