Beacon trial aims to engage Sydneysiders with new World War II sculpture

City of Sydney launches its first iBeacon trial aimed at driving audience engagement with public artworks

Yininmadyemi – Thou didst let fall sculpture in Sydney's Hyde Park
Yininmadyemi – Thou didst let fall sculpture in Sydney's Hyde Park

The City of Sydney has launched an iBeacon trial aimed at driving audience engagement with its new seven-metre high World War II sculpture honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diggers.

Four beacons will be installed around Hyde Park South, where the new Yininmadyemi – Thou didst let fall sculpture is situated, and will push notifications to users of the city’s Sydney Culture Walks App advising them of the opportunity to listen to the story that inspired the artwork.

The beacon trial is running for 12 months and is a partnership between the City of Sydney, Meld Strategies, Brand Culture and Beaconmaker along with the Culture Walks App developer, We Make Apps. The trial represents the first foray into beacon technology for the City of Sydney team.

In a statement, Sydney lord mayor, Clover Moore, said the trial was a great way for people to learn about the meaning of an important new artwork. The sculpture is one of seven pieces of art commissioned as part of Sydney’s Eora Journey program.

Yininmadyemi – Thou didst let fall features four seven-metre tall, 1.5-tonne bullets and three fallen shells to represent the diggers who returned to Australia as well as those that lost their lives. It was created by Aboriginal artist, Tony Albert, whose grandfather, Eddie, served in the Australian Army during World War II.

The artwork’s title is designed as a reminder of how Albert’s grandfather and fellow service people were treated differently to their white comrades after the war.

“Tony has created a striking and dramatic artwork that becomes even more meaningful when you understand the story behind it,” Moore said. “By trialling iBeacon technology, the city is bringing this important historical story to the more than 15,000 people who have downloaded the Sydney Culture Walks App.”

Depending on the success of the trial, a spokesperson said the City of Sydney will then look to use beacons across other public artworks. Core metrics that are being used to gauge success include number of notifications served to users’ devices triggered by a beacon; notifications actioned or opened; views of the Yininmadyemi artwork card in Sydney Culture Walks from a beacon ‘referral’; and how many consumers listen in full to the audio piece.

Beacon technology has been popping up in an array of initiatives aimed at improving visitor and audience engagement at historic, sporting and cultural sites, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Last year, the Melbourne Cricket Ground ran a beacon trial to help give away Four ‘N Twenty pies to fans attending AFL games aimed at engaging with fans more interactively at the stadium. Based on that and a second trial at the sporting venue, the MCG is considering implementing beacon technology within its new $45 million Wi-Fi upgrade.

Arts Centre Melbourne also ran a beacon trial last year to test out ways it could use the technology to interact with visitors to the cultural precinct. While the initial trial, which focused on giveaways wasn’t ultimately deemed successful, the venue said it is now looking at how to provide more information-based services to visitors using beacon technology.

On the retail front, Chatswood Chase has also used beacons to better understand visitor flow and improve interactions at the retail mall, while Bendigo Marketplace in Victoria has been using beacons as part of a series of family engagement activities at the site such as digital treasure hunts.

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