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UWF App Brings History To You Anywhere

University of West Florida

There's an app available for your smart phone that will lead you to some of the country's most...and least known historical landmarks.

The smart phone app is called "Next Exit History" and it was developed in a partnership between the University of West Florida and the company Historical Research Associates. Patrick Moore, the Director of the Public History Program at UWF says the idea began about eight years ago as he and a colleague were driving to Tallahassee and wanted to stop for coffee. After bringing up a GPS on his laptop, Dr. Moore thought about developing an application for dashboard Garmon or Tom Tom units that would go further than finding coffee and gas stations, but would also inform travelers about historical landmarks and museums in small town across the state.

Dr. Moore says they continued developing the idea with help from two colleagues from UWF and from the Florida Humanities Council. The Florida secretary of State's Office got involved and made Next Exit History the official app of the Viva 500 celebration around the state. But developing and maintaining the app became more than four people could handle...and that led to the partnership with Historical Research Associates, a company specializing in historical and archeological research and litigation support. Brad Bowden, president, CEO and senior archeologist for HRA said the partnership began when, while they were also toying with the idea of developing an app for their historical content, they met Dr. Moore and invited him to join their board of directors.

And that partnership has taken Next Exit History from a Florida based app to a national database. The app works by letting people know about historical markers and landmarks on their route as they drive. If you click on one of the markers, a short description appears. Dr. Moore says they are not a "wiki-based" app so the what qualifies as an app-worthy landmark. So all of the landmarks and content is researched by professional historians and will now be verified by HRA.

The signing of the licensing agreement for Next Exit History between Historical Research Associates and UWF marks the first agreement signed by a social sciences department at the university. The signing ceremony also marked the opening of HRA's new offices in Pensacola.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.