KY State Parks Get Wireless Internet Access
Today’s traveler is becoming more and more reliant on technology. Last fall, the Kentucky Department of Parks rolled out a pilot project to provide free wireless Internet access in guest rooms at Lake Barkley and Rough River Dam state resort parks. Guests may now easily get to the Internet using either the network card built into their laptops or by borrowing a device that provides that access.
"In the past year, the Department of Parks has made great strides in improving its technology services to the public," said Parks Commissioner George Ward.
The network has worked smoothly and guests are delighted with the convenience. And wireless access isn’t just for the business traveler trying to keep up with e-mails.
“We’re seeing a lot of people traveling for pleasure who are so used to having an Internet connection wherever they go, so this is a potential draw for vacationers,” said Sharon Roark, director of the technology division.
The department now plans to expand wireless access to all of the remaining 15 resort parks. Plus wireless access will extend beyond guest rooms to conference rooms and lodge lobbies, Roark noted.
The department is preparing a Request for Proposal for a company to set up the wireless networks at the resort parks.
Not only will the guest experience be enhanced, but park business processes will be improved, too, Roark noted. As an outgrowth of the wireless project, each park’s network connection will be enhanced, allowing business staff to send and receive data faster.
Wireless access is expected to be available in all parks by year’s end.
"The department also will soon have a new online-reservations service," Commissioner Ward said.
The department has purchased software that integrates into the existing software used at the resort parks for reservations and a variety of administrative functions.
With the new reservation system, a guest will have full access to all available rooms and cottages in real time. The new system is expected to be up and running by mid-summer.
Park’s Web site was also recently improved, Ward noted.
The site has a new look that complements the “Unbridled Spirit” brand.
"Navigation is also a lot easier. Information is easier to find, better organized and presented in a more appealing fashion," Ward said.
“For many visitors, our Web site is the first impression that they get of our park system. When we brought Sharon on board earlier this year, we made redesign of our web site her top priority task. I’m pleased to say that we now have a Web site that any tourism industry attraction would be proud of,” Ward said.
Behind the scenes, the new site is easier to update. Changes in data can be easily made without affecting any design elements, which means it will be easier to make frequent changes in Web pages as needed.
Also, the Web site was redesigned so that its appearance is more consistent on various monitors.
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 52 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. Each year, Kentucky parks draw 7 million visitors and contribute $317 million to the economy. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit their Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov