Capitol at Sunset; Tiroune Oates

HOW IT ALL BEGAN...

The Inspiration

The idea for CapApp came to Tiroune as he was in his first of two internships on Capitol Hill, during his early undergraduate years. He first interned in a House member's office in January of 2013. It lasted almost six months, and he gained the experience of a lifetime. While giving tours in the Capitol Building, Tiroune developed an interest in Capitol tourism. As a college student, he wanted to develop an integrated app to provide an educational experience for tourists and other students. He started networking from the Hill and became involved in tech marketing; he found Meetup groups in D.C. that were centered around entrepreneurial ventures, and he surrounded himself with like-minded people. Tiroune kept attending events even after his internship ended, and he made it a point to stay connected with the startup and coworking world, even during the summer. By the fall, he was in his second stint on the Hill - this time working in the Senate. He continued to give tours of the Capitol grounds and began to get more familiar with the inner-workings of the tour process. Tiroune spent a lot of time making friends with the guide staff, spending one-on-one time with them asking about their jobs, the difficulties they encountered giving daily tours, seasonal visitor trends, and other details regarding their experiences. He learned a lot about some of the frustrations shared by the staff, including the main reasons why locals opt to take tours through the offices of their representatives rather than through the Capitol Visitor Center. Tiroune learned that the frustrations held by the staff were the same as the ones held by the tourists. The problems were as follows:
 
  • Due to the very large number of visitors and small number of guides, tours that should normally take 45 minutes now take 15. Smaller rooms on the tour are often not visited, less questions are answered, less information is explained, and groups are ushered through the building more than they are led. With the Capitol seeing roughly 2.5 million visitors a year, there is an increased pressure on the guides to give more tours in order to decrease visitor wait times. Unfortunately, this tends to have an adverse effect on the Capitol experience. CapApp was created to enhance that experience. 
  • Visitors of all ages and levels of education are currently given the same tour. Children who may not understand the more advanced information - as well as adults who may feel the information presented is too simple - are losing out on important lessons and experiences. CapApp tailors the information to meet the individual needs of our users. 
 
  • Among the visitors to the Capitol are students, who stand to gain the most from the tour experience. A full and thorough exploration of the building would allow students to implement the information presented into their own individual curriculums and help them apply that information to other subject areas. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, students are losing out on crucial facts and information. With CapApp, we're bringing the lessons directly to students and recapturing their interest. 
  • Currently, the audio capabilities of the tour suffer from poor sound quality and noise interference. The conversations and footsteps of such a large volume of visitors overpowers and distorts the audio in the tour's headsets, and larger tour groups find it difficult to hear properly. CapApp eliminates the need for faulty headsets. 
 

Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center; Architect of the Capitol

The CapApp Experience

We pride ourselves on being different. Developed by a former intern and influenced by visitor opinion, we're bringing a brand new concept to the marketplace. Smooth functionality, brilliant graphics, integrated information for users of all ages, and virtual capabilities combine for a truly unique experience. Whether you use the app to enhance your staff-guided tour of the Capitol, or just want to take a virtual tour from the comfort of your own living room, we're bringing the history to you. Education has never been so much fun. 

Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building; Architect of the Capitol