Free app with map and real-time guide highlights natural wonders and
thousands of years of human history

A buzzing phone in Rouge National Urban Park doesn’t have to break the spell of the beautiful outdoors. With a beautifully designed new mobile app created in partnership by Parks Canada and students at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), it can be an invitation to dive deeper into the park’s forests, wetlands, farm fields, and rich history.

In 2016, in collaboration with Parks Canada, a team of students based at UTSC’s entrepreneurial incubator known as ‘The Hub’ began working on a standalone app to illuminate the wonders of Canada’s first ever national urban park. The students gathered information from local experts, Parks Canada staff, long-time residents, volunteers, community groups, Indigenous partners, scientists, historians, and park visitors to create a program that functions like a seasoned tour guide in the pockets of visitors.

Beyond offering general park information on trails and activities, the app is loaded with GPS-triggered “hotspots” that share fascinating fun facts corresponding to distinct places in the park – all in real time. Step onto a pedestrian overpass rife with calling birds and an alert will tell you about a colony of swallows below who build their nests by carrying mouthfuls of mud from the Rouge River.

The app has a number of features to enhance visits, from achievement badges for hikers, memory games for kids, and important safety information. And because visitors are valuable eyes on the ground, the app has a function for visitors to share and report information such as wildlife sightings or dumped garbage with Parks Canada staff who can follow up using the GPS location shared.

The Hub is UTSC’s entrepreneurship incubator, where aspiring entrepreneurs and bright minds create and launch new products, services, and business start-ups. Entrepreneurs in The Hub work with experienced coaches and mentors, guiding them in best practices of early-stage entrepreneurship.

The Rouge app complements perfectly the existing Parks Canada national app for trip planning. While Parks Canada’s mobile app provides visitors with tips and information to plan their visit and share their experiences on social media using fun and interactive Parks Canada-themed filters and stickers, the Rouge app help visitors navigate in the park with detailed information on local park trails, flora and fauna, and unique park features.

The new app is available to download for free on iOS and Android devices (via Google Play or the App Store). Once downloaded, the app does not require the use of any data and can be used with full functionality in the park offline.

To download the app, visit Google Play or the App Store.

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