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27 August 2013
ABC Innovation is inviting Newcastle and Launceston locals to trial a ground-breaking pilot project that channels news and information from a variety of sources to their mobile phones.
Launched today, Spoke provides a mobile phone site for aggregated news, entertainment and other information relevant to people in specific communities. News and information will be combined from ABC news outlets, Fairfax local publications and direct from city councils, festivals and event organisers, sports clubs and community groups.
Newcastle and Launceston residents can test the product by logging on to the m-site spoke.abc.net.au and entering their location. The m-site can then be personalised to give viewers only the news and information that they want to see. Sport, for example, can be made a priority or turned off completely for those not interested.
Feedback from residents will be used to improve the Spoke experience and will feed into further beta trials. The research findings are also being shared with content participants and with the public on the Spoke blog http://abcspoke.tumblr.com/
Director of ABC Innovation, Angela Clark, said further Spoke trials would be based on community reaction and engagement.
“We conducted research in Launceston, Mt Gambier, Geelong, Canberra and Newcastle to better understand what role a person’s location plays in their content needs,” she said. “Spoke came out of this research, as it showed that people in smaller cities and towns were struggling to find the right mix of relevant news in an easy-to-use mobile format.”
“The first Newcastle and Launceston pilots will hopefully give us a sense of what people want and to determine if Spoke is on the right track. We have already learnt that people don’t want only local news but would prefer a mix that includes local, national and international.
“We thought Newcastle and Launceston would be good places to test this tool as they are cities with strong local identities and of regional significance. Newcastle is also emerging as a hub for digital incubation and both cities have vibrant arts communities and a passion for local sport.
“With the vast changes in the media landscape, we are hoping to create a tool that offers support across the sector. By providing people with links to a range of media sources, we achieve two goals: sending more traffic to different sites while wrapping information up in one single source to make it easier for readers. Collaborative ventures like this will benefit local media and the communities they serve.”
The ABC plans to extend Spoke to Mt Gambier and Townsville later this year.
For images, further information or interviews:
Ashford Pritchard: T 02 9492 1040 M 0411 020 680
Laura Douglas: T 02 9492 1002 / M 0452 505 859
About ABC Innovation:
ABC Innovation manages the ABC website abc.net.au and core mobile offerings including the ABC iPhone, iPad and Android apps and a number of the ABC’s content portals. It also runs the ABC’s Innovation Lab, which incubates digital content and produces initiatives and explore ‘future facing’ experiences for audiences. ABC Innovation’s technology team delivers audience facing software and technology projects in mobile, personalisation and services the ABC’s divisional Content Development Network, streaming and support needs. More recently, ABC Innovation has partnered with Education Services Australia to create the online portal Splash, which aims to transform school-age learning by making available free educational interactive, video and games – all matched to the new Australian curriculum for primary and secondary school children.