PEOPLE in West Belfast and beyond are being encouraged to spend more time in the Falls Park – and earn rewards by doing so.
The new CivicDollars mobile phone app allows people to generate bespoke crypto currency for the time they spend in the Falls Park as well as other parks and open spaces in the city.
Civic Dollars can be spent on things like Translink DayLink passes, USB pens, tickets to visitor attractions, or donated to local community groups including the Top of the Rock Healthy Living Centre, local Sure Start providers, and Suicide Prevention.
Rewards can also be spent in local shops including McAreavey's Chemist on the Falls Road.
The app was developed as part of the the Belfast City Council and Department of Justice ‘Amazing Spaces, Smart Places’ project, which enables the public sector to tap into new ideas and technologies created by innovative local businesses.
Stephen McPeake, CEO of Moai Digital Ltd and creator of the Civic Dollars app, said: "So far we've had just under two-and-a-half-thousand hours of activity registered within the parks and loads of rewards have been redeemed but, more importantly, a lot of community groups have benefited by people donating to them.
"The groups are able to access things like legal services, financial support, business consultancy – things they could never really afford before or get access to. Now they can do it by getting their members more active."
He added: "We're aiming to add as many groups as close to the parks as possible."
Commenting on the initiative, local Green Party rep Stevie Maginn, said: "Spending time outdoors is extremely rewarding and is linked to both positive physical and mental wellbeing and Civic Dollars makes it even more rewarding.
"This is an example of exactly the type of animation project which can help reduce instances of anti-social behaviour in our parks by encouraging more people to dwell in them.
"I’ve been enjoying the app myself over the past couple of months and I have found it gives a bit of extra motivation to get out and about to benefit your own health, but also earn dollars to support the work of our amazing local charities and causes.
"Now that Translink Day Passes have now been added as a perk from McAreavey’s Chemist, you can even save a few quid on your daily commute.
"I’d encourage regular users of Falls Park as well as local residents to download the app and take part in the pilot and hopefully Belfast City Council will be able to procure the app long term."
The CivicDollars app can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play Store.