Location-based services with a kick: What are challenges and treks?
I had the pleasure of speaking recently with Christina Dorobek, University Specialist, with SCVNGR.
If you have not heard of it, SCVNGR is a part mobile/social game. As compared with ‘check-in’ apps or location-based services (LBS) like Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, etc., SCVNGR also involves challenges. Challenges could be everything from simply checking in at a specific location on campus to answering a campus trivia question, taking a photo of a favorite study spot, or almost anything.
A second component of SCVNGR is the trek. Treks are simply challenges at places linked together into a themed or branded experience (“Top 10 Places on Campus,” “Sports trek” etc.). Universities are not only building challenges at different places, but usually treks to encompass an overall theme (recruitment, orientation, homecoming, etc.). Completed challenges accrue points that can unlock a real world reward at a specific location or badges within a trek. The trek is only limited by the creativity of the ones doing the scripting. In other words, a university can script its own challenges and treks for the campus.
Currently, SCVNGR has over 350 colleges and universities as clients. These colleges and universities are seeing use primarily from Admissions, Alumni Relations, and for new student orientations, but it is providing greater engagement on campus for all students.
At Boston University they have linked together 14 challenges into one trek, and students earn points and compete for prizes ranging from an iPad to hockey tickets. With more than 50,000 students the University of Minnesota is one of the 10 largest universities in the United States. They ran a Trek during all 27 Summer Orientation sessions. The University of Minnesota is now sharing the license with their student organizations so that smaller student groups and clubs can build challenges and treks. Oregon State University is using SCVNGR as a way to engage new and current students, Alums and the greater OSU community with campus, downtown Corvallis, and the surrounding areas.
Currently, about 4% of Americans use location-based services. This number is expected to explode to 30%+ in 2011 (yes, 2011). Look for companies like SCVNGR and others offering creative LBS apps to be at the forefront and to benefit tremendously from this growth.