The Guardian Brings Its Local History to Life With a Walking, Talking App


For Harry Potter fans, King’s Cross is where one boards the train for Hogwarts at “Platform 9 3⁄4.”

For The Guardian‘s new media mavens, it’s the setting for King’s Cross, London – Streetstories, an immersive app featuring an audio guide about the historic area which automatically activates sounds, music and stories relevant to your GPS location.

The free mobile app, available for iPhone and Android devices, launches with ten stories, while Streetstories Extra (available on iOS) has more than 70 stories and two hours of audio material downloadable via Wi-Fi.[more]

Why would a newspaper/web brand launch a travel app? It’s the brainchild of Francesca Panetta, special projects editor in the Guardian’s multimedia department, who envisions Streetstories as a way to bring storytelling to life on a local, vibrant leve. The historic neighborhood, also The Guardian’s London home, boasts a colorful history that includes the likes of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Now, via a mobile app, the Guardian brand can share those stories via non-linear narratives in an experiential, engaging way.

“Along York Way, where our building sits, you would have seen cattle being marched down the road from the Caledonian market, once the largest cattle market in Europe. More recently, King’s Cross was a mecca for thousands of clubbers, The Scala screened B-movies and horror films to devoted fans, and an old coal yard was transformed into a peaceful reserve, Camley Street Natural Park,” comments Panetta.

The apps were produced in-house in partnership with Calvium, the Bristol-based company behind AppFurnace.

It’s a novel application of new technology to an historic locale that’s weathered changes from the original village known as Battlebridge, through a run-down period as a red-light district, and has now become part of one of the largest construction projects in Greater London in the first quarter of the 21st century. Let us know if you’ve taken it for a spin and what you think.