Utah students create app, Utah state parks get upgrades

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) — Governor Spencer J. Cox was the first person to ditch paper envelopes and cash at Snow Canyon State Park and use ParksPass, a new automated payment system in the works that will streamline payment at Utah’s state parks.  

In accordance with the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, industry experts, Southern Utah University and Dixie State University students, the new mobile app allows visitors to purchase day-use passes electronically even before entering the park.  

“State Parks took an innovative approach and looked to Southern Utah universities and colleges to create a mobile solution to buying passes, technology for quicker park access, and real-time capacity data for both the visitor and park management,” shares Jason Pitts, SUU research fellow for outdoor pathways. “Now, for the first time ever, you can ‘know before you go.’” 

Officials say ParksPass will have access to Snow Canyon State Park, Sand Hollow State Park, Quail Creek State Park, and Gunlock State Park over the coming months. 

Signs for ParksPass and automated scanning technology will be installed at the parks in hopes to also speed up entries.

The app will provide visitors with trail maps and identify amenities offered at the parks.  

“Not only does this technology make it easier for Utahns to explore and enjoy our state parks, but it also highlights the incredible talent we have in Southern Utah’s universities,” Eric Pedersen, dean of Dixie State’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology, says. “Students are gaining hands-on experience by helping with this project that prepares them to enter the workforce career-ready as soon as they graduate. This project truly is a win-win.” 

In addition to SUU and DSU students and employees, Utah State Representative Walt Brooks, Scott Strong with Utah State Parks, and Pitts were also instrumental in developing this technology that will benefit all state park visitors. 

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