Coinciding with its 100th anniversary, Parks Canada is introducing a new GPS system which will launch them into their next 100 years. Parks Canada, established in 1911, is the world's first National Park Service. Headquartered in Ottawa, the government agency started with a single park in Banff, Alberta. In the past 100 years, it has grown to include 42 National Parks, 167 National Historic Sites, 3 National Marine Conservation Areas and 1 National Landmark. As of 2004, Parks Canada also employed 4,000 people under an annual budget of $500 million.
Their new GPS system, named Explora, is a program developed to give visitors location-specific content on their GPS. The program is interactive, providing the user location-related text, quizzes, videos and pictures. During a pilot program, Parks Canada distributed the GPS devices at two test parks: Signal Hill in Newfoundland and Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia. Visitors were asked to explore the park using the GPS devices. When surveyed upon completion, 85% of the people gave the device a positive review, saying they had learned something new. This percentage consisted of both first time visitors and repeat visitors.
With the success of the pilot program, Explora is expanding to more parks beginning this summer. Along with the expansion, Parks Canada is creating two apps for mobile devices: one focused on cooking and one teaching camping basics. The cooking app will range from historical recipes to the best way to make coffee while camping. As for the camp basics app, users can access a demonstration of how to pitch a tent or launch a canoe.