Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (SMF) is the local land trust for the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts — protecting 2,900 acres of land across the island. In addition to conserving land, SMF maintains an extensive trail network for hiking, biking, bird-watching, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. They also provide environmental education programs and lead guided natural history walks.
SMF was interested in providing visitors and locals with a comprehensive tool for exploring the island’s recreation resources, and they also wanted to find new ways to engage the next generation of members and donors. They had long provided detailed information about their preserves on their website and via their newsletter and social media accounts, but they felt like they needed to provide more comprehensive information to help people safely navigate their preserves and trails. After interviewing locals and visitors, they decided to build an outdoor recreation-focused mobile app.
SMF quickly realized that building their own mobile app from scratch would be exorbitantly expensive and that they didn’t have the experience nor the capacity to research, design, and invest in the continual iteration needed to build and maintain a great mobile experience. They reached out to OuterSpatial and were able to quickly build and deploy TrailsMV, a modern mobile app for iOS and Android.
SMF realized early on that there wasn’t a comprehensive resource for all of the open spaces and trails on the island, and that for an app to be effective it would need to cover the entire island.
Partnerships were critical to success. SMF engaged GIS staff from Martha’s Vineyard Commission who were actively collecting and aggregating trail data for the dozen or so land management organizations on the island.
Once the data process was established, SMF staff — along with volunteers, board members, and other partner organizations — worked together to create high-quality content for the island’s recreation assets. Knowing that beautiful photography was an important part of creating an engaging user experience, they used the TrailsMV app to run a challenge where app users could submit high-quality photos to SMF staff.
SMF and partner organizations generated a series of curated Outings, including hikes and bike rides. These Outings give recreationists a set itinerary to follow, and they’ve been popular with visitors and locals alike.
SMF keeps their OuterSpatial event calendar up-to-date by adding guided hikes, interpretive tours, speaker series, educational opportunities, and more. Visitors discover the events within the app and use the app to obtain driving or biking directions to the event and then access important information like detailed maps while participating in the event.
People getting lost on the island was a serious problem SMF wanted to address with the app. Staff and partners worked hard to map out points of confusion along trails, and they also added other detailed points of interest to provide rich on-the-ground context to the app. With the TrailsMV app, users have the ability to see exactly where they are, and they can safely navigate the extensive trail network — even when they don’t have cell coverage.
TrailsMV has been a huge success for SMF! Using detailed information from more than a dozen land management organizations, locals and visitors can now discover new experiences and more safely explore the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. The app also serves as a new channel SMF can use to engage more people, giving them a powerful tool to help grow their member and donor base.
"TrailsMV has been really great for SMF, providing an easy way for locals and visitors to safely explore our diverse preserves and trails. The app has helped raise our profile and as a result, we’ve been able to engage a new generation with our work."
"This app is clean and straight forward. If you are looking for trails on Mv this really can help you to find your way! Couldn’t be happier with it and am so thankful that someone finally compiled all of the trails here on the vineyard!! Great job devs!!!"
"Thank you for this app. I’m just a visitor, but like to run trails. This helped me find places to run on the island. Even the islanders I stayed with didn’t know so many trails existed. Great resource!"