A flick of a smart phone over interpretive signs along the Leonard Swanson Bike Path will take viewers to the past with first hand audio and video recollections of the 1972 Flood, or click them into the present with information and statistics about how Memorial Park is used today. Friends of Rapid City Parks and the Rapid City Public Library collaborated on installation of QR codes that connect bike path users to mobile web content developed by the two organizations. The 40th Anniversary Commemoration Committee and the South Dakota Humanities Foundation supported the project.
Friends worked with the committee to develop the signs that were installed along the bike path as part of the 40th anniversary observance of the flood in 2012. “When our board first discussed the sign project, our main concern was that the target audience for the information is the generation who did not experience the 1972 Black Hills Flood,” said Steve McCarthy, president and founder of Friends. “One of our board members who is an active cyclist suggested smart phone codes be added to the engraved signs,” he said, and the group took the idea to the 40th flood anniversary
Demographers estimate that about three-fourths of Rapid City’s current residents either didn’t live here or were not yet born in 1972. The signs and the QR codes offer an opportunity to inform people who are now aged 20 to 40, or who have moved to Rapid City in the past 30 years, and are not familiar with flood history. This audience includes bicyclists, joggers, walkers, parents walking or riding the bike path with children, and similar users, according to Hillary Dobbs-Davis, another member of the Friends’ board. “The generation that remembers the flood is getting older. If we don’t get the next generation into that space, soon, so that they can appreciate it, there will be fewer and fewer people left to fight for it.”
Codes developed by Friends will add web-based content to the signs at locations in Braeburn Park, Meadowbrook Golf Course, Storybook Island, Memory Lane, across from Baken Park, at Omaha and Mountain View, East and Omaha, and at the Fairgrounds. The library developed links for the sign locations at Canyon Lake, Sioux Park, Founders Park, Executive Golf Course, and the Sixth Street Bridge.
“The generation who experienced the 1972 flood has generously shared personal stories and participated in action to preserve the greenway along Rapid Creek,” said Stephanie Bents, Digital and Public Services Librarian at the Rapid City Public Library. She said those individuals are now only about a third of the population of Rapid City. Decision making about land and water planning and uses of the greenway will be made by people who either moved to Rapid City after 1972, or were born after it occurred.
“This younger generation, who walk, jog, bicycle, and roller blade individually or with their young children along Rapid Creek are the target audience,” Bents added. Other users of Rapid City parks, bike path, playgrounds, golf courses, fairgrounds, and picnic areas will have access to 14 codes along the 8 miles of the system. Audio, video, photos, and links to the library’s Flood Wiki archive will pop up on smart phone screens, as well as brief facts and figures about the site where the viewer is standing.
Samantha Slocum, an associate librarian who developed material for the mobile web pages said the use of smart phone technology, in combination with the stationary interpretive panels, provides access to more detailed information than can be presented on the physical signs, including audio and video and links to the Library’s Flood Wiki. “The technology allows Friends and the Library to update information, provide new facts and figures, change links to additional personal stories, add updated audio, video, info graphics, and resources.” TDG Communications of Deadwood, which has done QR code projects providing information about historic buildings in Rapid City and Deadwood, created the web technology to support the codes.