'A Homepage for the Physical World': Location-aware app, HERE, helps readers easily discover local news.

Author:Mateos, Evelyn
Position:Look Ahead

The Lenfest Local Lab and the Philadelphia Inquirer have collaborated to bring news consumers HERE, a location-aware app that makes discovering news easy. Currently, the app is only available for iOS devices. It was released in November and so far has 300 users.

To install, users simply need to grant three necessary permissions for the app to function: the ability to send notifications, know the users real-time location and detect motion.

HERE works by sending a push notification if the user is near any art, architecture or real estate that has been written about recently in the Inquirer. These topics were chosen because they are about places that people could be walking by and easily stop to observe and read about. If there isn't any news in the area where the user is, no notifications will appear, nor will the user receive any alerts if they are driving.

The idea stemmed from Lenfest's goal to help citizens learn about and connect with their communities and with local journalists. It took roughly two months to develop.

'With the HERE app, we are testing a local news product that meets people where they actually are," Sarah Schmalbach, lead and product director for Lenfest, told E&P. "We wanted to try to create a local news homepage for the physical world."

Schmalbach shared that creating the app required a lot of brainstorming and communication with the Inquirer, which included a team of 10 collaborators ranging from executives, directors, editors and reporters. Pulitzer Prize winning Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron also had her hand in the project, as her stories provided the foundation for the app.

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