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Fort Myers adds historic points of interest to Otocast mobile phone app


Since 2017, the City of Fort Myers has subscribed to a free mobile app called Otocast so that residents and visitors can access information about the artistic landmarks that dot our cityscape and residential neighborhoods. At present, descriptions, artist bios, current and historic photographs and audios are live on the app for 49 of the 53 murals that circumscribe the river basin adjacent to Luminary Hotel as well as 30 of the sculptures and monuments that comprise the City’s permanent public art collection.

Now, the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Historic Preservation Commission are collaborating to add text, images and audios for 30 historic buildings located in and surrounding the downtown Fort Myers River District. So far, content has been uploaded to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast for the following thirteen historic points of interest:

  1. Earnhardt Building (2260 First Street)
  2. First National Bank Building (2400 First Street)
  3. Heitman Brick Building (NW Corner of First and Jackson Streets)
  4. Heitman Evans Hardware Building (2235 First Street)
  5. Hotel Bradford (2247 First Street)
  6. Langford-Kingston Home (2500 First Street)
  7. Langford Miller (Grand Theater) Building (2278 First Street)
  8. Lee County Courthouse/Lee County Commission Building (2120 Main Street)
  9. Murphy-Burroughs Home (2505 First Street)
  10. Snell Brothers Building/Salon Nicholas (2229 First Street)
  11. Stone Block Building (2236 First Street)
  12. Stone Block Building Annex
  13. Veranda Restaurant (2122 Second Street)

These and seventeen additional historic buildings have been identified by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission for inclusion on the app. Once these sites have been added to the app, Otocast will give users unparalleled access to the coolest facts and behind-the-scenes stories about both the art pieces and historic buildings residents and visitors see all around them.

The app is free and available for download in the iTunes store and on Google Play. Otocast works through geo-location mapping. Users don’t need to know anything about an artwork or historic building they happen upon. There’s no need to look for a plaque or QR Code. You don’t need to know the name of the artist, the title of the piece or the name of this historic building. Simply tap on the app and the guide automatically comes up, providing access to an array of information about the art piece or historic building you’re looking at. The app will also identify other artistic and historic points of interest that are located nearby.

By virtue of its audio component, Otocast is like having your very own tour guide who knows all the facts, figures and inside stories about the artworks and historic buildings they see. In fact, in other towns and cities where Otocast is already in use the app serves as a platform for self-guided audio tours that encourage exploration and discovery, helping people gain a better appreciation of their cultural legacy. This feature is particularly useful in a town like Fort Myers, where many of the pieces in the city’s public art collection and century-old buildings encapsulate tales about the pioneers who built a rough-and-tumble cow town out of the remnants of an old wooden frontier outpost in the years following the end of the Civil War.

“Otocast accommodates people who just want to know more about a particular landmark as well as individuals and small groups who desire to spend an hour or two touring all the artistic or historic points of interest in a given location at their own pace,” observes Otocast Founder and CEO Eric Feinstein. “Some of our users have even developed puzzles and scavenger hunts to encourage people to learn more about their landmarks and early history.”

For example, the Boston Harbor Association engaged some puzzle makers to develop a Da Vinci Code-style scavenger hunt that took participants across Boston’s waterfront in a mentally-engaging, family-friendly adventure. At each stop, Otocast provided historical background and location-specific information that ultimately yielded one or two of the 12 words that solved the puzzle. Participants who provided the correct solution were entered into a random drawing for a $1,000 cash prize.

“Because you can’t answer them without being on site for reference, our word puzzles and scavenger hunts encourage people to interact with places they might not otherwise visit,” Feinstein amplifies.

The app is versatile enough to eventually include parks, nature trails and other attractions.

Even before the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian on Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach, the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau had been promoting Fort Myers as the gateway to Lee County in recognition of the increasing importance of cultural and heritage tourism.

Not only does the app enhance the visitor experience of all tourists, vacationers and business guests, it’s accessible to people who are planning excursions to Southwest Florida. The information they see and hear on Otocast is expected to induce some of them to plan a trip to Fort Myers rather than some other tourism destination.

Otocast currently hosts guides containing in excess of 4,500 points of interest in more than 200 cities in 90+ countries

Watch this space for more articles on the historic points of interest that are already live and that will be added to Otocast in the coming weeks. For more information, please contact the City of Fort Myers’ Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

Visit the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast here.

January 8, 2024.

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