Hello Downtown” technology launches to allow the public to take part in playful and thought-provoking conversations with objects and places in downtown Iowa City

The Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD) has introduced a new collaboration with a tech firm, Hello Lamp Post as an innovative way to engage with the community and downtown visitors. The new platform now allows anyone in downtown Iowa City to have direct and unique conversations with the interactive persona with objects and featured activities happening via a text (SMS) conversation. Launching this week with its first installment focused around the holidays and gift shopping, the “Hello Downtown” powered by the Hello Lamp Post technology encourages everyone to start a conversation with Downtown Iowa City.

Hello Lamp Post is a unique communication platform that uses customized A.I. technology to allow cities, business improvement districts, and neighborhoods engage with community members in a fun and easily accessible way. The platform’s concept is to allow community members and visitors to interact and bring options currently in the public space alive. “Using the infrastructure that already exists in cities and towns to make them more interactive we can bring more voices to the table. It’s a great way to increase diversity by opening up conversations with the local community”, said Hello Lamp Post CEO, Tiernan Mines.

The software platform has been widely used throughout Europe for the last decade in cultural tours, a way to report crime or provide direct comments on construction projects. Communities throughout the world continue to find it a successful tool to encourage anyone with mobile devices to have two-way ‘chats’ with their surroundings, providing the public with key local information, while gathering important perceptions, opinions, and ideas. Downtown Iowa City’s newest collaboration is now one of the first United States cities to introduce the technology.

The launch of the platform in Iowa City at the beginning of December 2022, is the first of many Hello Lamp Post rollouts coming downtown over the next year. For the holidays, the conversations and engagements are designed to provide workers, residents, and visitors with information on holiday happenings and gift-shopping recommendations. “The goal in bringing Hello Lamp Post technology to downtown Iowa City is to open up additional ways for anyone visiting the area to interact with the district in a unique way. We decided to use the platform for the first time during the holiday season as a concierge service for those looking for holiday activities and shopping ideas. Start the conversation with “Hello Downtown” and ask about Santa sightings, where to buy gifts for grandma etc.”, said Director of Creative Services, Betsy Potter.

To interact with the surroundings, visitors simply scan a QR code found on the distinct “Hello Downtown” signs throughout the downtown area, enabling them to engage in a friendly two-way conversation via text, receiving real-time answers to shopping questions as well as information on Downtown’s holiday events. In the upcoming months, additional conversations and objects will be introduced throughout downtown providing ways to engage with featured public art, feedback on upcoming streetscape projects, and event information.

Engagement with the program can happen via the QR codes posted in different areas of downtown Iowa City or by texting with the direct number 319-346-3443.