The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) is considering the development of a mobile website and/or tablet application for visitors to its upcoming exhibition, Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America. The exhibition explores the importance of sports in American life and the impact of sports on culture, communities, and on American character and values.
The website and/or application would allow visitors to the exhibition galleries to navigate through text, images and video of game-day experiences at athletic events. The website and/or application would be required to operate in kiosk mode for continued use, work without continuous network access (as not all exhibition venues will have wifi or cellular data network coverage), and allow SITES staff to make content changes and reload a new version of the website or app to the device on an annual basis. SITES plans to reuse and build on this solution for the kiosk requirements of future traveling exhibitions as well.
The project must be completed by January 15, 2014 and will be used throughout the life of the exhibition, Hometown Teams, which will travel to up to 180 communities in 30 states before retiring in 2020. Hometown Teams is a project of the Museum on Main Street program, a special collaboration between the Smithsonian and state humanities councils to provide exhibitions and programmatic expertise for small and rural cultural organizations.
Here are some of our draft functional requirements; we’d love to hear your suggestions on these and others!
- a web-based, user friendly content management system interface that allows the Smithsonian to change content easily, publish a new version of the app or website, and load it on to the devices that will be installed in the exhibition, either individually or en masse, via wifi or a cellular data network – when Internet access is available!
- open source technology and/or reusable components are preferred.
- a fun and colorful interface inspired by the exhibition design, but developed in a template-driven way so that the kiosk’s look and feel can be customize for use with for other projects and devices in future.
- ability to collect analytics on kiosk use, even if just partial. Please note that Internet connectivity will not be continuous, so the analytics solution should be able to store usage data locally on the device until it can synch with a web-based analytics collection and reporting tool.
- compliance with W3C web accessibility standards, supporting resizing of text, Voice Over or similar text to speech functionality, and video captioning as well as navigational buttons that are usable by people with reduced mobility in their hands and fingers.
How Would You Do It?
Here are some of our questions about the developing the solution; what else should we be asking? Please add your comments and suggestions below.
- Would you propose that the Smithsonian develop a mobile website or standalone application to achieve its goals?
- Would you suggest we utilize open source programming and reusable components?
- How long would it take to develop the initial kiosk product?
- What methods and tools would you suggest for collecting usage metrics, especially given that the kiosks can’t be always connected to the Internet?
- What kind of content management system would allow the Smithsonian to alter content each year most efficiently?
- What standards should the project employ to ensure future portability of the product and content to other platforms and uses?
We hope to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for this project in the next few weeks and will include a link to it here when it is published.