Journalism students at York St John University have scored a world first by pioneering beacon technology to deliver on-campus news content.
Working with local entrepreneur Stuart Goulden and his marketing agency and start-up studio Like No Other, undergraduates used the Google-backed system to reach audiences directly via Android mobile phone alerts.
Stories created by students, including an appeal for information on the anniversary of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence, achieved thousands of page impressions during the trial.
The technology was developed for the ground-breaking OtherWorld project in Manchester. It brought together 60 partners including Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council and the Manchester Evening News to deliver content across the city.
OtherWorld was recently crowned ‘European Start-up of the Year’ at the European Media Awards and shortlisted for the ‘International Digital Innovation of the Year’ at the 2018 newsawards.
Jonathan Brown, lecturer in Media Production: Journalism at York St John said students have been able to augment the reach of content from the programme’s news website theyorkie.co.uk and existing social media channels.
Mr Brown added: “This exciting collaboration has offered a unique opportunity for students to work with a next-generation news delivery system. The ability to closely target content to specified audiences has already fired ideas for future research and practical projects.”
Mr Goulden said beacon technology could create powerful news ecosystems free from search engines, social media, apps or even a home page.
He added: “I’m delighted to reignite an old relationship with York St John University and bring a compact version of OtherWorld to York. I’m sure the students can find some imaginative new ways to engage people in their journalism and add a new layer to life on campus. It’ll be exciting to see where they take it.”
The system, developed with backing by technology giant Google, operates by delivering silent notifications to Android mobile phones via Bluetooth using a network of physical beacons situated at strategic points within the target community.
It is estimated that up to 75 per cent of phones currently have Bluetooth switched on due to the rise in wearables and hands-free streaming.