ICE: Building Belfast – civil engineering meets tourism in a new app

ICE members tell the story of how civil engineers shaped Belfast City Centre.

Belfast
Belfast's civil engineering story will be brought to life through the stories of how five local superheroes battled against the elements to save the city. Image credit: ICE

ICE members in Northern Ireland are embracing a new way of sharing how civil engineers shape lives, using a new augmented reality (AR) tourism app.

Tourism NI asked ICE to work with it to develop the free ICE:Building Belfast app, having seen the great success of the ICE Invisible Superheroes campaign at Belfast City Airport for ICE’s 200th anniversary.

ICE Northern Ireland regional director Jenny Green said: "It is a great new way to see some of the hidden stories in Belfast’s infrastructure and learn more about the people who use their skills to make a real difference to our everyday lives. 

"We hope people have fun using the app, and that it sparks curiosity about civil engineering and infrastructure to inspire them to think about a career in our professions.  There are so many routes into civil engineering and infrastructure careers, and such a variety of specialisms as the app shows, that it really can be for anyone."

Designed to engage young people with civil engineering, the app has been developed to encourage users to discover the history of civil engineering at key sites around Belfast’s city centre. Using a combination of GPS technology and augmented reality, the app provides a gateway to Belfast through stories that signpost users as they travel across the city.

The interactive app hosts a trail of five points of interest across Belfast’s Waterfront area. At each location, Belfast's civil engineering story will be brought to life through the stories of how five local superheroes battled against the elements to save the city. 

The characters along the tour are civil engineering superheroes, based on real people living and working in Northern Ireland. The app gives users the opportunity to meet the real superheroes behind the characters -  four civil engineers and a conservation architect -  in the augmented reality experience.  

Belfast's superheroes

Carol Andrews a.k.a ‘Hope City’

Carol Andrews works on projects that are helping transform Belfast. She uses her engineering talents to create projects like the Connswater Community Greenway which give people better spaces to walk and cycle, while also protecting homes from flooding and improving biodiversity.

Ian Long a.k.a ‘Rock Steady’

Ian Long is a master of designing buildings. His hospitals, apartments and schools keep us safe and sound, allowing us to focus on what we need to do. He was involved in making sure the Albert Clock didn’t fall over. He used his engineering skills to keep it in place so that tourists from all over could come and see Belfast’s own ‘Tower of Pisa’.

Stephen McCaffrey a.k.a ‘Span Man’

Where nature has divided us, Stephen McCaffrey connects. McCaffrey's bridges span rivers and valleys to help Belfast citizens get around the city more easily. He uses his skills to build structures that stand the test of time to help Belfast continue to thrive.

Azaria Bleakley a.k.a ‘Weir Woman’

Azaria Bleakley uses her engineering talents to help Belfast flourish while protecting nature. Her next project is to encourage people to be active as they move in and out of Belfast by creating a new bridge across the Lagan at Stranmillis: the Lagan Gateway. Successful cities have lots of bridges – Bleakley is helping Belfast flourish.

Dawson Stelfox a.k.a ‘The Keeper’

Dawson Stelfox specialises in bringing old buildings back to life. He wants to ensure that Belfast keeps its sense of identity, the skill of past generations and the embodied energy they represent.

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