First of Its Kind Interactive Community Guide Launched by 360Village for City of Pleasant Hill, California : Interactive Maps and 360-Degree Virtual Tours Combine to Promote Local Economic Development

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In an effort to promote the city’s shopping areas, hotels, restaurants and area amenities online, the City of Pleasant Hill and 360Village Online Communications, LLC, announced the launch of an innovative new Interactive Community Guide accessible via the City’s web site.

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I'm always interested in signs posted around the city announcing upcoming meetings. Adding the sandwich board icons to the Guide exactly where the actual signs are located on the ground makes it easier to find out about the meetings if you're unable to read them as you drive by

The Guide utilizes the popular Google Maps® as its primary user interface, complete with satellite imagery and topography. It then overlays it with custom markers and layers to both market the city and provide timely information for users. The Guide provides multiple options to find businesses and amenities and includes photos and 360-degree virtual tours for many locations.

"The Interactive Community Guide is an effective, visual way for us to show how attractive the city is to potential visitors and businesses considering locating here. It also serves as a way to keep our citizens apprised of what's going on around Pleasant Hill," said Kelly Calhoun, Pleasant Hill's Economic Development Manager.

Calhoun also noted that since the Guide utilizes Google Maps as its base, when Google engineers update the maps and add new features, they are free and happen seamlessly. Instead of spending money on mapping software, City resources can go toward the virtual tours and other marketing enhancements for the Guide.

Dan Stone is the founder of 360Village and developed the Interactive Community Guide for the City of Pleasant Hill. He is a former urban planner and a Pleasant Hill resident. "I transitioned from working as a urban planner into the Internet realm while I was working at the Association of Bay Area Governments in Oakland about 10 years ago. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to combine my planning background with the latest Web technologies to help chambers of commerce and local governments like Pleasant Hill," he said.

Users can control what features are displayed on the map at any given time such as the City's General Plan map overlay. Other unique features of the Interactive Community Guide include development projects (shown as yellow hardhat icons) and public meeting notices (shown as green "sandwich board" icons).

"I'm always interested in signs posted around the city announcing upcoming meetings. Adding the sandwich board icons to the Guide exactly where the actual signs are located on the ground makes it easier to find out about the meetings if you're unable to read them as you drive by," Stone said.

The initial launch includes virtual tours of the five major hotels and the top six restaurants, as determined by sales tax revenue generated, as well as links to virtual tours of area parks, built previously for the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District by 360Village. The City hopes to greatly expand the number of businesses showcased in the Guide in the coming months.

"Any tax-generating business license holder with a brick and mortar location can get a virtual tour and photos shot and a marker added to the Pleasant Hill Interactive Community Guide map for under $400.00 with no monthly fees. Since the City's web site gets thousands of visitors a month, that translates into very affordable online marketing," said Calhoun.

The Interactive Community Guide can be accessed through the City of Pleasant Hill's home page at http://www.PleasantHill.Ca.Gov.

360Village is an online marketing consulting firm providing web development, photography, virtual tour and design services to small businesses, government agencies and non-profits.

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