Nova Scotia

New tech company helping preserve the history of Sydney Steel

A Cape Breton tech startup Tapnbe is working with the Sydney Steel Museum Society to create kiosks that will interact with smartphones.

Tapnbe is working with the Sydney Steel Museum Society on virtual displays accessed by smartphones

New Tap N Be technology adds multimedia capability to information kiosks at Sydney's Open Hearth Park. (George Mortimer)

Sydney Steel was torn down in the 1990s but its history will live on with the addition of new technology at virtual museum kiosks on the former plant site.

The Sydney Steel Museum Society is teaming up with Nova Scotia Lands and Cape Breton-based tech startup Tapnbe.

Together they will bring more of the plant's history to smartphones.

The idea was tested in 2015 using QR codes on plaques in Open Hearth Park. New plaques will be located throughout the property using the updated technology.

Ron Campbell, founder of Tapnbe, said visitors will be able to access content by using their phones.

"In some cases, it will play the video automatic so as you walk through the park you would have an experience of walking through the steel plant," he said. 

Ron Campbell of startup company Tap N Be and Carol Lee Boutlier of the Sydney Steel Museum explain the new technology. (George Mortimer)

Carol Lee Boutlier, a teacher who works with the museum society, said there's much to learn about the steel-making process and "the cultural impact of the steel plant."

"You can use your mobile device to either tap or scan codes or chips that would be located throughout the park," she said.

"Teachers could bring students to the site and get them to take part in a hands-on learning where they could actually walk around, do virtual scavenger hunts throughout the park." 

Dave Ervin, former president of Local 1064 of the United Steelworkers of America union, said it's important to keep the memory of the plant alive. 

"It's our history. For 100 years that steel plant kept this city going."

Former steel plant worker Gerry McCarron is happy to see the plant's history preserved.

Gerry McCarron, who worked at the plant for 20 years, said the virtual museum is something that won't die in the archives.

For young people, he said, "with their ability to come over here and actually see a video of the steel plant as it was, it'll really put [the plant] back in the forefront."

The virtual museum will open at the end of May featuring several new plaques.