Upgrading the Oldest Museum in Spain With Mobile Tech
JUNE 15, 2016 • BY BOB VIOLINO, HPE MATTER • BLOG POST
IN THIS ARTICLE
- The oldest museum in Spain catapulted itself into the 21st century by partnering with a technology dream team
- Real Academia uses mobile technology, Wi-Fi and Big Data to enhance visitor experience
How Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando uses Aruba solutions to enhance visitor experience
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, a nearly 300-year-old fine art museum in Madrid, is leveraging the latest mobile technology to deliver an enhanced experience for visitors. The museum, the oldest in Spain, deployed wireless networking technology and beacons from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, as well as a custom-developed mobile content management app based on Aruba’s Meridian app platform. The institution wanted to have something completely new and impressive from a technology standpoint, says Álvaro García-Hoz, CEO of Mobile 72, a third-party app developer that created the mobile app. Real Academia was also aiming to modernize its audio guide by making the guide available through users’ smartphones. The Aruba Beacons are low-energy devices that provide indoor location and communication based on proximity. This enables the museum to deliver notifications when a visitor nears certain areas such as specific exhibits or exits. The beacons also allow visitors to quickly locate different areas within the museum. Also part of the implementation are Aruba 320 series access points (APs), which feature integrated beacon management. Mobile 72 worked with Aruba on the deployment, including ensuring that the custom app was well integrated with the beacon technology. The app locates visitors in the museum and uses the beacons to guide visitors through the museum works. Using the app, museum curators can provide additional resources for exhibits, such as video and audio to give visitors more in-depth information about exhibits.
Wi-Fi from floor to ceiling The biggest challenge of the project was having to deploy the wireless technology in an 18thcentury building that has walls as thick as one meter, García-Hoz says. Unlike new museums where equipment can be installed behind walls, technicians had to rely on using floors and ceilings. “We had to open the ceiling and start deploying the Wi-Fi,” he says. “This is a very old building so it was tough to do that.” Technicians had to contend with the difficulty of establishing connectivity between access points in the uniquely constructed building. “We had to spend a lot of time making the final configuration in order to have a proper Wi-Fi coverage,” García-Hoz says. “We wanted visitors using the mobile app to be more satisfied with their visit & we achieved that.” Working around masterpieces Adding to the challenge, workers had to be careful not to damage paintings and other works of art in the museum, which are worth millions of dollars. “We couldn't take away all the pictures and works and then bring them back, because that would have taken too long,” García-Hoz says. “We had to work with the art there,” moving them around as needed so as not to damage them. Integrating the mobile content management app went smoothly. Because the app is hosted in Meridian’s cloud, there were no concerns about storing the huge volumes of data for content such as photos and videos. Enhancing visitor experience “We tried to determine what would be the perfect mobile app for a visitor at the museum,” García-Hoz says. “We wanted visitors using the mobile app to be more satisfied with their visit than visitors not using the mobile app. I think we achieved that. People who are using the mobile app are really happy with the information that they get from it. They have a better overall experience at the museum.” One of the biggest advantages of the app is that it enables the museum to produce personalized guided tours for visitors, which can help increase satisfaction rates. This is in line with Real Academia’s goal, which is more focused on boosting visitors’ enjoyment of the museum than increasing the number of visitors. In addition, museum managers can gain feedback about how long people stay at the museum and which parts of the museum have the highest traffic—based on data from the app such as map searches. If an area has particularly low traffic, it might be because the area is not as easily found as others, and management can make changes in the art collections to draw more traffic to those areas. Other data the museum can gather is whether visitors are foreign or domestic. “This is very relevant for the museum and for Spain in general,” García-Hoz says. Gathering that type of information is typically costly because the museum would need to hire staffers to stand at the exit and ask people where they are from and how they liked their visit. “Museum management can now get all that information from the mobile app,” García-Hoz says. He says he is working with the museum to help create content on the app that targets certain types of visitors, such as students and international visitors. In that way, the museum can deliver even more personalized experiences.
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