Monmouth, UK set to become the world's first Wikipedia town

By Lee Kaelin on May 18, 2012, 10:30 AM

Monmouth (Trefynwy), a small town in Wales, UK, known for being the birthplace of King Henry V looks set to make history once again, after Wikipedia announced it was to become the world's first Wikipedia town. The widely popular online encyclopedia says the Welsh town's relatively small size and historical significance made it ideal for this groundbreaking project.

First established in 1067, the town will have numerous small ceramic plaques and stickers bearing QR codes dotted around parts of the town, designed to be read by smartphones which can then reveal important information about each point of interest. Plaques and stickers will be placed on every important building, near rivers, on landmarks, museums, and hundreds of shops.

"The idea for Monmouthpedia began at a TEDx talk in Bristol when John Cummings, an occasional Wikipedia editor, suggested from the audience that the UK Chapter use QR codes to do a whole town," said Roger Bamkin, director of Wikimedia UK on their official blog. "That challenge was handed to Cummings when the Wikimedia UK chapter backed the idea. He then moved to his home town of Monmouth where he assembled an ad hoc group of supporters who wanted to participate, including the local County Council."

The project was funded jointly between the Monmouthshire County Council and Wikimedia UK, a charity that supports the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia's mission and took six months to turnaround. Those visiting the town won't have to worry about data charges either, as the council has also installed free town-wide public Wi-Fi access, also the first of its kind to be implemented in a town in Wales.

The language used for results after scanning each QR code will be dependent on the handset's language settings, enabling tourists to learn about each landmark via Wikipedia's website in their own native language.

According to Wikimedia, there are now over 1,000 QR codes spread across the town, and over 450 new articles have been written in over 25 different languages by volunteers all around the world. In the future, Wikipedia would like to incorporate this model into larger towns and cities of interest.

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