Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fun at Their Fingertips: Apps Help People Navigate State Fairs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fun at Their Fingertips: Apps Help People Navigate State Fairs

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - This year's newest Oklahoma State Fair attraction will be in the palms of visitors' hands.

Oklahoma State Fair Inc. has launched an app that will give people directions to their favorite foods, help navigate the grounds and let them learn the day's highlights. The company joins the ranks of state fairs nationwide that are investing in the technology as a way to improve customer service.

The Oklahoma State Fair starts Thursday and runs through Sept. 21.

State Fair spokesman J. Scott Munz said the app is another extension into new technology for the 108-year-old event. The Oklahoma State Fair already has a presence on social media, with accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

"If (state fair visitors) are attached to their smartphones, we need to be smart enough to reach out through those devices," Munz said. "We need to start conditioning people to know that we're in that mobile space."

He said the company had been looking at creating an app for two years. It had originally planned to construct its own, but as it looked into upgrading Wi-Fi on the fairgrounds, Aruba Networks offered an app with the update. The program is available at the Apple app store and the Google Play store.

The technology update was funded by Oklahoma State Fair Inc.

Munz said in the future, the software will have maps for other events at State Fair Park, such as Affair of the Heart. The update will allow visitors to track down an exact booth inside a building.

"That will be out later this year or the first part of 2015, depending on how quickly we can get the maps built," he said.

Munz said the app will enhance the Oklahoma State Fair experience.

That is why many state fairs across the country are adding the technology, said Marla Calico, chief financial officer and chief operating officer at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. …

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