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Technology blooms on signs at Janesville's Rotary Botanical Gardens

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Shelly Birkelo
June 30, 2013

— Rotary Botanical Gardens visitors can now use their smart phones to learn more about the gardens and displays.

Waist-high signs with quick response codes are being strategically placed throughout the internationally themed botanical gardens on Palmer Drive.

QR codes can be scanned by smart phones to take users to web pages, explained Mary Fanning-Penny, executive director at the gardens.

"This is a way for the gardens to embrace technology as a tool to enhance communication with our visitors, specifically those using smart phones," she said.

The new signs will pass information to visitors who aren't on guided tours or don't have access to staff to ask questions, she said.

"This allows us to provide more information and communication in an easy, accessible way," she said.

The QR code on the sign at the Sunken Garden links users to the wedding page on the gardens' website, for example.

Other QR signs will be placed along the high-traffic path in the Cottage Garden to promote the gardens' annual holiday light show.

"Many visitors come from the local community, but for those outside the region this may be a way to learn about the holiday light show and a way to save the date or put it on a calendar," Fanning-Penny said.

More laser-engraved signs with QR codes mounted on hip-level metal stakes could be added later to access information on specific plant collections and how to better care for your own garden.

"We have all the analytics set up, so we'll be able to monitor the participation rate for each sign then will be able to tailor signage to specific topics that people seem most interested in going forward. The sky is the limit for this kind of technology," Fanning-Penny said.

The new signs are a way for the gardens to be more interactive and engaging with the public.

"I hope our visitors see this as our attempt to enhance communication and provide them with information they may be interested in about the gardens," she said.



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