History Check Mobile App – Our story.
In 2015 Sheila Willis, and other historians, had the concept to add northern Alberta historical sites and stories to a map based app where heritage societies could add their local information and keywords. The end result would be a heritage travel companion app & research tool, that could be searched for people, events, eras, and places, tying the shared history of the north together across all regions. The Friends of Historical Northern Alberta was formed as a non-profit society to lead the project.
With her paper napkin concept, she approached Scott Astle for technical advice on the possibilities and creation of such an app. As the concept developed it became apparent that the project was versatile enough to include attractions, businesses and other points of interest and could be used as a travel companion app for Northern Alberta.
From these humble beginnings, History Check has become an award winning, Alberta wide heritage & travel companion app that continues to create guides with for 650+ Alberta communities with the cooperation of our alliances and partners.
The History Check app project started in the spring 2015 as a very general brainstorm concept of Sheila Willis as a way to place Northern Alberta historical sites and stories on a map, tell the story, and be able to search the app by people, events, eras, and places.
This lead to the formation of Friends of Historical Northern Alberta Society (FHNAS) that took the project under their wing as a non-profit organization. This single organization would work cooperatively and collaboratively with others to reach mutual goals.
In having an idea, and not sure how to make it happen as an app, Sheila approached Scott Astle with for help in design and input on the features it could have, and how to convert those ideas into a working, feature loaded app.
Through the conceptual stages, Sheila and Scott realized that they had developed a mobile app that could be used not only as a historical visitation guide & research tool, but as a way to offer travel guides to all Northern Alberta communities.
On a shoe string budget and thousands of volunteer hours, Sheila and Scott brought the conceptual idea to life as History Check app, version 1.0, in the spring of 2016 with the focus on Northern Alberta communities.
As development continued, funding was pursued. Although as a mobile app, History Check was ineligible for many funding streams, municipalities and other partners saw the vision and contributed to the project.
In October 2017 FHNAS launched the beta version of the History Check app for northern Alberta. While still lacking in information, there were about 750 sites listed to give alliances, partners, and app users a working idea of the concept.
In October 2017 the History Check initiative received the first of its provincial awards;Outstanding Achievement in Heritage Awareness. This was followed in February 2019 by the Marketing Award at the Growing Rural Tourism conference, and being shortlisted for a Governor General’s award in 2019/2020.
As History Check developed, the scope of the project grew, and ineligibility of mobile apps for many grant funding streams, FHNAS made the decision that the goals of the project would be served as a for profit business.
Impact Tourism was formed by Sheila & Scott and they took over the project as a for profit business as of December 2018. Since then, they have expanded the project to include the entire province and continue to form alliances across many sectors.
They have maintained the initial mandates to offer Alberta businesses and non-profits free site listings and other benefits that promotes collaboration for the benefit of multiple organizations.
On June 21, 2019, History Check was officially expanded to province wide coverage; with 650+ Alberta communities listed and content growing on the app with each passing week.
Updated versions with additional features are in the works and will continue to develop. Groups from other provinces have expressed interest in have History Check as a part of their heritage and tourism strategies, and as History Check develops it will also expand its coverage.