Explore Dillsboro with a new mobile Web App

Chancellor Belcher snapping a picture during the unveiling

The town of Dillsboro unveiled a new mobile Web application created by Western Carolina University students at a “launch party” at The Jarrett House on Monday, March 26, at 5 p.m.

A new Dillsboro mobile application designed by WCU students will help visitors find an array of information about the town.

Created by computer information systems students in WCU’s College of Business, the app will connect smartphone users to Dillsboro’s businesses and attractions. In addition to seeing a brief description about each listing, the app makes it easy to click through to the websites associated with Dillsboro destinations, call businesses and attractions directly or find them with turn-by-turn directions and Google-generated maps.

“The app will encourage people to explore Dillsboro because they will be able to see all of the great things we have to offer from the convenience of their smartphones,” said Casey Queen, president of the Dillsboro Merchants Association and co-owner of The Queen’s Junque in Dillsboro.

Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher and wife Susan used their iPhones to officially launch the mobile Web app, while Casey Queen, president of the Dillsboro Merchants Association, and Dillsboro Mayor Mike Fitzgerald did the honors on their Android-based devices.  More than 100 people gathered at the March 26 event at the Jarrett House to witness the unveiling. The event was part of a week of activities celebrating the installation of Belcher as the 11th chancellor of Western Carolina.

“This project and this partnership demonstrate a lot about what Western Carolina University is all about – providing the opportunity for our students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it for the benefit of the communities we serve,” Belcher said.

Dan Clapper, associate professor of computer information systems, has worked with students developing mobile Web apps since fall 2010. Ten students contributed to the development of the Dillsboro mobile Web application.

“We are excited to have this prototype for Dillsboro, and we look forward to continuing our work with the town in the future,” said Clapper.

To promote the app, students in a public relations campaigns class taught by Betty Farmer, professor of communication, developed an initial awareness campaign that includes the launch party, a social media campaign, signage in high traffic locations such as visitor centers and hotels, a large banner off Highway 441 and a video featuring a new character, the Dillsboro Mobile Man, a giant iPhone shown in the photo above.

Susan Brown-Strauss, professor of theatre and costume design/technology, and Tony Sirk, manager of WCU’s costume shop, created the costume for a Dillsboro Mobile Man. Gabe Nucci, assistant professor of broadcasting, is producing video of the character meeting with community members and enjoying the many activities and shops in Dillsboro.

Visitors to the mobile site can register for a “Discover Dillsboro” giveaway worth more than $500 to be awarded over the Fourth of July weekend. The prize package includes a night’s stay at the Dillsboro Inn, a guided raft trip for four from the Dillsboro River Company, and food and gift certificates from a variety of Dillsboro merchants. The giveaway registration may be found under the promotion category when visiting the mobile site.

The creation and promotion of the Dillsboro mobile Web app is part of the ongoing Dillsboro/WCU partnership, a university-wide effort designed to match WCU expertise and resources with Dillsboro’s challenges and needs. Initiated in 2009 at the request of Dillsboro leaders seeking assistance in difficult economic times, the project involves dozens of WCU faculty and staff and hundreds of students across numerous disciplines.

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