Waterford Digital Story Trail picked up the Digital Changemaker Award at the.ie Digital Town Awards 2024 which were held in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone on Friday, May 24th.
Recognising and rewarding projects across the country for their use of digital technologies and innovation that have had a transformational effect, the .ie Digital Town Awards featured projects which included themes such as ethical and sustainable tourism, digital infrastructure and digital at the heart of the community. With a total prize fund of €60,000, the Digital Story trail project also received €3,000 in prize money.
In February of last year, Waterford City and County Council in partnership with Imvizar, and with Fáilte Ireland funding under the Destination Towns Initiative, launched Waterford’s first Digital Story Trail (DST), which explores the history, culture, and heritage of 15 different locations across the city centre, including Reginald's Tower, Waterford Crystal, the Watchtower and Arundel Square.
Waterford Digital Story Trail brings the stories of Waterford to life as you wander through the historic streets of Ireland’s Oldest City. This innovative experience seamlessly combines audio, augmented reality, and a simple-to-use web interface which allows visitors to interact with Waterford City's rich past. Using a mobile devise, visitors are transported to 15 key locations where they can listen to tales from historical figures and witness AR recreations of pivotal moments, such as the crafting of Waterford Crystal and the first design of the Irish flag. This trail educates and entertains, making history accessible and engaging for all ages.
Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. Joe Conway congratulated the award-winning project saying, “This project is truly deserving of the Digital Town Digital Changemaker Award.  The innovative technology has brought Waterford’s past to life.  This novel approach gives locals and visitors alike the chance to delve into Waterford’s rich history and learn more about the fascinating people who shaped it.”
Orna Holohan, Tourism Officer with Waterford City and County Council, on receiving the award said, “It is fantastic to receive this award, particularly as there were such high calibre nominees in the Digital Changemaker category.
“Waterford Digital Story Trail has set a new benchmark for interactive cultural experiences, fostering a renewed interest in Waterford's past among locals and visitors alike. Its impact goes beyond immediate tourism gains, offering a lasting contribution to the appreciation and preservation of local history.”
Adele Keane, Creative Producer, Imvizar said, “We are honoured to be recognised as Digital Changemakers. We hope that the Digital Story Trail will inspire other towns and cities to adopt Waterford’s innovative approach to making history more interactive and accessible.”
The DST has exceeded expectations attracting over 25,000 visitors and boosting the city's tourism, particularly from international guests. In its first year 75% of users were from Ireland but through promotion international users increased to 43% in 2023 with US, UK, Germany, France and Spain being the top users. Beyond enhancing tourism, the trail has deepened the community's connection to its heritage, making history more accessible and engaging through innovative technology.
This is not the first time this project’s success has been recognised. It was featured in the New York Times “52 places to go” list in 2024 and praised on RTE’s Nationwide for its exemplary approach to digital heritage storytelling.  A variety of recent accolades in Waterford have recognised Mount Congreve, Waterford Greenway, Tramore and Waterford Treasures.
To find out about Waterford’s Digital Story Trail visit Waterford Digital Story Trail (visitwaterford.com)