A University of Ulster academic database with comprehensive details of hundreds of memorials relating to the Troubles has been transformed into an interactive iPhone app.
The Memorials App project was led by staff at INCORE (International Conflict Research Institute) which is based on the University's Magee campus and has links to the United Nations University. The app will make information about the Troubles easily accessible, widely available and invaluable as an educational resource.
INCORE commissioned local company EyeSpyFX, a University of Ulster spin out company, to carry out the development of the app. The Memorials App, which is now available to download for free from the iTunes Store, will work on both the iPhone and iPad.
The Memorials App forms part of the CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) Web site. CAIN has been collated over a fifteen-year period by a team led by Dr Martin Melaugh, Research Fellow with INCORE.
Dr Melaugh explained the CAIN Web site contains an extensive range of information and source material on the conflict and politics of Northern Ireland from 1968 to the present day and is used by academics worldwide.
"This easy to use iPhone app was will allow users to view information and photographs about each plaque, memorial stone, memorial enclosure, garden, or statue that has been erected to commemorate conflict-related deaths, he said.
"They can search the online databases for memorials of interest, use the app's geo-locating facility to find other memorials that are close to their current location or they can specify a particular location and explore monuments in that area. The app also has the facility to retrieve information about those commemorated by the memorial."
The memorial information was first made available via the CAIN Web site back in June 2009 but the Memorials App offers a new way to access this material.
"Memorials in Northern Ireland are still evolving and the app has a facility which allows users to send us new information to update our database". We would welcome contributions of photographs of any new memorials, as well as information on changes to existing memorials, Dr Melaugh added.
Professor Brandon Hamber, Director of INCORE, said: "We are always looking at different ways to make the information on the CAIN Web site more accessible to a wider audience.
"The Memorials iPhone App is just the start. We would hope to make the same information available for other smartphones that use different operating systems like Android, Blackberry and Windows Phones.
"We want to enable as many users as possible to engage with the information when they visiting the memorials to make the information more interesting and relevant for them.
"However, further development of the App will be dependent on funding. We are currently looking for potential funders to develop this project further, as well as other mobile applications based on CAIN so we can make contemporary and historical information on the conflict truly mobile and accessible," added Professor Hamber.
EyeSpyFX which is supported by the university's Office of Innovation, was founded in 2002 by Anthony Hutton, a senior lecturer in the School of Creative Arts at Magee App. EyeSpyFX has deep expertise in mobile App development, database and m2m technologies.
In 2010, it launched an iPad App, "Ireland; Myths and Legends" and was one of the first Irish companies to develop an app for the iPad. Anthony Hutton said it was great to work on the Memorials App project because the database was so complete.
The project unlocks the potential of a rich academic database by representing it on mobile devices in a convenient and easy to use way.
Mr Tim Brundle, Director of the Office of Innovation said the Memorials App would advance our understanding of history in a new and immersive way.
"In developing this significant app, the University of Ulster has brought together its regional and social understanding, its innovation and the talents of one of our spin out companies. I hope that the new Memorials App finds wide usage with those people wishing to understand the past."
Technical development support was provided by Mike McCool, ICT Director for INCORE and CAIN.
Development work on the Memorials App was funded by the Research Branch of the Office of the First Minster and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).
Pictured above from left to right are: Professor Brandon Hamber, Mike McCool, Dr Martin Melaugh and Anton Hutton
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