Free app launch turns Cherwell into virtual playground

Residents in Banbury will soon be able to take part in a digital game of discovery which encourages participants to walk and cycle around the district.

By Matt Elofson
Friday, 7th August 2020, 8:44 am
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 9:11 am

Cherwell District Council has partnered with StreetTag to provide the free downloadable app which turns the area into a giant virtual treasure hunt.

An interactive map guides players to specific digital markers, with participants picking up points for every one they discover. Points are built up over time, with Cherwell giving out prizes for families and individuals who top the table.

The virtual tags will be placed in popular walking routes and areas with green space to encourage players to get around on foot or bike. Using the latest GPS technology, the app will then be able to log when a player is in the correct area, rewarding them with points.

Each tag is worth an average of 10 points, but the council will be able to increase the value of certain markers on particular dates or to encourage residents to specific points of interest including libraries and leisure centres.

Cllr George Reynolds, Cherwell’s lead member for leisure and sport said: “Health and wellbeing have never been more important. The statistics show that the healthier you are, the more likely you are to recover from COVID-19 if you catch it. We also know physical activity helps to improve mental health.

“By working with StreetTag, Cherwell is helping residents to improve their wellbeing by providing a fun and easy way to increase their activity levels.

"Anyone with access to a smartphone can get involved and with the extra competitive element, where points mean prizes, we hope this will become a popular activity for a wide variety of people all year round.”

Cherwell District Council has partnered with StreetTag to provide the free downloadable app which turns the area into a giant virtual treasure hunt.

Participants can play as individuals or as a family, with teams of up to six people allowed.

Families signed up to Cherwell’s FAST (Families Active Sporting Together) programme are invited to join a special league with extra prizes including 1,000 bonus points for signing up with their FAST membership number. There are also plans for an inter-school league to be established this autumn.

Although the app is designed to encourage users to specific destinations, the player can pick up points within a 40-metre radius of the target, ensuring social distancing can take place. It is hoped that as well as improving the wellbeing of users, the app will connect communities by encouraging residents to explore new areas of their town or village.

Virtual Tags are worth an average of 10 points per tag. Once users are near/within a 40-metre radius of a tag, the player receives the points which help the family/team to move up the leaderboard. There are also QR code tags worth 50+ points that are assigned to special buildings such as leisure centres.

Tags change colour to red once they have been scanned, and cannot be scanned again for another hour, thus encouraging the user to explore other tags that are not yet scanned.

At the end of the challenge (approximately every 12 weeks), the top 15 teams are given prizes. Prizes will include vouchers for health and wellbeing activities across Cherwell.

The StreetTag app is available to download for free from Google Play and the App Store. Tags for the Cherwell leagues will be activated on Monday August 10.