HOUGHTON – MI-TRALE has released its Free Michigan UP Trails app, available now for Android and iOS, to replace the prior existing paper maps distributed nationwide.
Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the safe and responsible use of multi-use trails for both motorized and non-motorized trail enthusiasts.
“MI-TRALE had produced several paper maps and 2 volumes of a 140 plus page trails map book which was very successful. We found soon after the maps or books were printed, the maps became out of date or services closed” said MI-TRALE’s Donald Helsel. “The time and effort to produce products like this was unbelievable.”
Not only would the maps become outdated, but just-in-time updates on trail availability and conditions were just not feasible. But with the release of the Free Michigan UP Trails app, it “allows us to keep all the mapping and services data up to date for the users, almost real time” resulting in the ability to ensure a fun and safe experience for trail users.
MI-TRALE met with WUPPDR (Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region) to discuss their plan to migrate their existing paper maps to a digital app.
”WUPPDR produced our map data” and we asked for “recommendations for developers that could help develop the map app that we were envisioning” said Helsel.
This led to an introduction to Lexul – a local mobile and web application development company and graduate of MTEC SmartZone’s incubator, located in Hancock, MI.
“The Michigan UP Trails app provided Lexul with a great opportunity to publicly showcase our mapping and app development capabilities. Most of our work is with custom internal business applications that have proprietary technology and processes” said Eric Ollis, CEO of Lexul LLC.
Some 5000 downloads have occurred since its release.
The MI-TRALE team plans to continue adding other features and additional trails in the app as the Free Michigan UP Trails app gains more traction.
They “foresee the addition of multiple recreational trails across Michigan and possibly other states as well,” said Helsel, given how Lexul was able to design the app for growth and flexibility. “We are always looking for additional beneficial features for our users” and one such idea for the future is “GPS route tracking.”
Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC) is one of 21 SmartZone Incubators in the State of Michigan. Since 2003, the MTEC SmartZone has provided mentoring, technical support, and other services to local companies that have led to the creation of over 800 high-tech jobs in the Houghton and Hancock Michigan area.