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Author: The BCW

Initiative Unveils Ways to Use Public Art to Promote Peekskill’s Economy and Tourism

Seated, BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon with Matthew D. Rudikoff, Economic Development Specialist for the City of Peekskill.

The Westchester Innovation Network’s (WIN) CityLabs initiative and students at Iona University unveiled new ideas on how Peekskill can leverage its public art to promote economic development and tourism.

During their December 12 report to Peekskill’s economic development specialist Matthew D. Rudikoff, the students recommended that Peekskill partner with students at the Westchester Community College Center for the Arts to bring augmented reality and gaming capabilities to the Discover Peekskill app. Augmented reality is a smartphone-based interactive experience that enhances the real world with computer-generated perceptual information like animations, graphics, or sound.

“Some of our research brought us to Overlyapp.com, an open-source, no-code augmented reality platform that students at WCC would be able to manage without a computer science degree,” said Rob Kissner, GaelVentures program manager at Iona’s Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, who oversaw the students’ work. “We’re in a technology renaissance that makes redesigns of the Peekskill app more accessible versus before when you might have had to write a check for $40,000 to an app development company.”

The students in Iona’s Introduction to Ideation and Design Thinking class also suggested drone-art events; a sculpture path from the riverfront to downtown; and an app-based shuttle service that can move people from the train station to downtown like New Rochelle’s CircuitNR.

The students presented their ideas after spending six weeks studying how Peekskill can modernize public art with technology; engage new audiences, businesses, and residents; improve travel from the riverfront to downtown; and attract more visitors.

The proposed gaming elements on the Discover Peekskill app would allow users to build points for each public art site visited. The collected points would then allow users to unlock discounts or free items at participating local businesses.

Rudikoff praised the students’ ideas and he suggested that they should formulate next steps that Peekskill should take to implement some of the ideas. “How do you put it in action? That may be a follow-up in terms of what do you do as a local government person?” said Rudikoff.

The Iona-Peekskill City Labs collaboration is part of the Business Council of Westchester’s WIN-related efforts to propel innovation as the underpinning for the future economic growth of Westchester. WIN’s City Labs spotlights a host community and teams that municipality with individuals focused on identifying projects to assist in delivering immediate economic benefit to that community and its residents through innovation.

Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Marsha Gordon called the students’ presentation thoughtful and professional. “You’ve really taken the strong basis that’s (in Discover Peekskill) and built upon it and shown how it can be improved,” Gordon told the students. “It may be a question of getting funding to hire student interns to bring this to the next step and then be able to hand it off to WCC.”

The WIN program and Iona University will continue to work with a different Westchester municipality every semester and the program is currently seeking a new municipality to partner with for the fall semester. Municipalities interested in partnering with WIN should contact the Business Council of Westchester.

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