This is Minden, a small German town in North Rhine-Westphalia. The old town has preserved a number of Renaissance buildings including its symbolic cathedral. The town’s center square, restaurants, pharmacies, which smack of medieval age, are always packed with tourists. Even the first-time visitors don’t have to fret, however. Download a smartphone app called “Minden,” and you can access almost all information about the town in real time.
In 2014, an Internet network was installed in the center of Minden, with no strings attached such as fees or registration. And in 2016, Germany unveiled its “beacon mile.” In IT jargon, beacon refers to a telecommunication service that sends location info or messages to nearby users of a digital device such as smartphones. Based on the technology, “beacon mile” offers information for tourists visiting museums, historic sites, or local shops.
From the cathedral to the museum, the old city hall building, to the Weser river shipyard, as many as 75 beacon mile transmitters were built across the town. The transmitters send the information on nearby buildings in the form of push alarms to the smartphone apps within the radius of 70 meters. Walking along the “Beacon Mile Sections” alone will prompt automatic updates on the information about museums, restaurants, and bus stops in the vicinity.
Just by walking by the cathedral, for instance, tourists can get easy access to various types of information such as its old photos, history, and events, simply by clicking on the message on the app. While detailed information, such as tourism points, collection of preserved arts, and artifacts, has been added, Do’s and Don’ts are also explained for tourists visiting the establishment of religion. The guide is offered in English as well as in German, which makes it very easy to use for foreign tourists, nearly obviating the need to accompany a tourist guide.
“You can get a glimpse at a 360-degree video of the town in advance,” explained an official of Minden’s city government. “We are adding more practical information to the beacon mile system based on feedback from tourists and residents. Service areas will be expanded.”