“We always had tourists coming in and asking for advice on what to do and where to go,” Saffran said. “The business center became a hub, but I didn’t have anything to hand them as they walked out the door.”
Wanting to change that, Saffran and his friend Brad Fernbaugh began brainstorming about creating an interactive map for Ocean Beach. Their brainstorming resulted in OB Bizmap, a printed map of Ocean Beach businesses combined with an interactive website that leads users on a scavenger hunt through the community.
“This is a totally unique way to create foot traffic in a walkable business district,” Fernbaugh said. The map is colorful and whimsical and quickly provides a reference to all three business districts.”
The paper map can be found throughout Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla and hotels downtown. The web app allows users to participate in a scavenger hunt where they can win freebies and receive discounts.
“One of the beauties is each merchant makes their own decision about what to offer,” Saffran said. “Whether that is an amazing discount or a free hat.”
Some of the offers include free wax from Ocean Beach Surf and Skate Shop, a single ice cream scoop for $1 from Lighthouse Ice Cream and a “buy one beer get one for a nickel” special at Ocean Beach Brewery, Saffron said.
To participate in the scavenger hunt, users log onto obbizmap.com. The app will then guide participants around OB using Google Street View to three merchants. When users arrive at each merchant, they scan the QR code (barcode) and are awarded a prize at the third location.
Fernbaugh said they decided to make it a web-based app instead of a downloadable app because it saves space on a user’s mobile device. In addition, Saffron said, a web-based app does not save any information, so it eliminates the concern of personal data being saved or stored.
During a recent play through the web app, several of the QR codes did not scan properly. Fernbaugh said they are aware the code located at Mike’s Taco’s needs to be replaced. In addition, he said, some of the scanning issues could be a result of reflection and glare from the sun while users are taking a photo of the QR code.
“We will need to stay on top of them (QR codes) and keep them up to date,” Fernbaugh said. “We also want to move to using geofencing, much more like Pokemon Go.”
Geofencing creates a virtual geographic boundary that would allow the app to verify a user has found each location without scanning a QR code. In addition to improving the usability of the web app, the pair said they are really interested in getting more locals to give the scavenger hunt a try.
“If a church group or local school wants to try the app out, we would love to hear how it went,” Saffron said.
Lynn Walsh is a freelance journalist and an Obecian. She works to promote trust between journalists and the public through the Trusting News project and teaches at Point Loma Nazarene University. Originally from Ohio, Lynn has grown to love living at the beach and posts way too many San Diego sunset photos on Instagram.