Startup preparing CLE for RNC visitors

Posted at 8:03 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 20:03:00-04

A Cleveland-based tech startup is teaming up with the City to help direct the more than 50 thousand visitors expected to flood Northeast Ohio for the RNC. 

InTouch Cleveland developed a smartphone application in 2014 that uses proximity technology and Bluetooth beacons to provide real-time updates from shops, restaurants, public parks and landmarks around the greater Cleveland area. 

Alex Bernot, CEO of inTouch, told that business owners are able to use the beacons to transmit information about deals, events, and historical information to app users who are walking by. 

“By giving small businesses or surroundings the ability to tap into these beacons and upload certain content, we allow those beacons then to broadcast information right to people’s phones,” Bernot explained. 

About 80 beacons have already been placed in businesses and shops in 12 target communities around Cleveland, including East 4th Street, Ohio City, Tremont, downtown Willoughby and Lakewood.  

InTouch is led by three Cleveland-area natives who said they wanted to help build up the tech presence in the area. 

“There’s so much tech innovation out in the bigger cities, why not here?” said Robert Walker, Chief Technology Officer for inTouch. 

Walker and Bernot said the upcoming Republican National Convention is the perfect opportunity to expand that technology with its influx of brand new guests.  

The City’s Economic Development Deptartment is teaming up with inTouch to help market the free app to visitors and grow the number of beacons installed to 200. 

“By having these 50,000 delegates and guests coming in, they have no idea what’s going around the city at any given moment, where they’re standing at a certain point and what’s going on around them,” Bernot said. 

Joseph Fredrickson, owner of Society Lounge on East 4th Street, said he already uses the beacons to push out information about food and drink specials. 

He told he’s looking forward to putting his beacon to work during the RNC. 

“It’s not just politicians but interns and the help of the help of the help that are looking to just wind down after an intense week, an intense day,” Fredrickson explained.” 

Beyond the convention, the app allows businesses to collect and analyze valuable data about the consumers patronizing that business or area. Bernot explained that the information can than be used for marketing purposes. 

Interested businesses can request a free beacon online.