Free App Launched Turning Cherwell into Virtual Playground

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

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.”

Participants can play as individuals or as a family, with teams of up to six people allowed. Families signed up to Cherwell’s FAST 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.

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 10 August.

For more information on how to sign up, head to www.cherwell.gov.uk/info/3/leisure-and-culture/107/be-active-more-often/4