By Paul Levesque
ASC Public Affairs

Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. - You can now take a self-guided virtual tour of Rock Island Arsenal, courtesy of two brochures produced by the U.S. Army Sustainment Command History Office

The brochures, titled "A Self-Guided Tour of Rock Island Arsenal" and "A Self-Guided Tour of Memorial Field," provide instant information on 31 historic sites on the arsenal, and 31 weapons and vehicles on display at Memorial Field on the installation.

Users can access the information by using the QR reader on their smartphones or other digital devices equipped with a QR reader. Pointing your phone at one of the QR codes printed in the brochures will call up an item posted on the Army's public website on the site or weapon.

The web postings include a brief summary of the site or weapon and other information, along with present-day and historical photos and, in some cases, infographics.

The "Self-Guided Tour of Rock Island Arsenal" brochure includes a map showing where each of the 31 historic sites is located, and that also shows where parking is available to the public. The "Self-Guided Tour of Memorial Field" brochure includes an aerial photo pinpointing each of the weapons and vehicles on display, and also includes a graphic description of the differences between howitzers, guns and mortars, and the different types of munitions fired from these weapons.

Both brochures outline the technical specifications needed to activate the QR codes, as well as guidelines and restrictions in place for visitors to the installation. (NOTE: If you plan to visit Rock Island Arsenal, information on these guidelines and restrictions can be found at the RIA Garrison website, at this link: https://home.army.mil/ria/index.php/my-fort/all-services/gate-information)

Mark Struve of the ASC History Office, who took part in developing and publishing the brochures, said that they were designed as a service to visitors to the arsenal and to help tell the story of the historic installation located on an island in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois.

"Rock Island Arsenal has a long and rich history," Struve said, "and these brochures use modern technology to help us share that history with the public."

Guided historical tours of RIA are available on a limited basis to prominent visitors and groups, as well as to newcomers arriving to work or live on the arsenal. The brochures will supplement that tour program, Struve said.

"By going through these brochures and activating the QR codes," Struve said, "you'll basically get the same information we provide to individuals who take a guided tour."

Using smartphone-activated QR codes to share information is not an original idea, Struve admitted, and is a practice already used at museums and historic sites across the country and around the world.

"But it's an idea that we thought would work well here," he said, "because of the wide variety of historical sites and items found on the arsenal and because of how well this technology lends itself to enhancing a self-guided tour."

Struve said the History Office originally tried using a social media site for the postings, but that this proved unreliable. The History Office then worked with the ASC Public Affairs Office to place postings on the Army's public website, which posts and archives items on a more permanent basis.

"If the past is any guide," Struve said, "the web addresses we're using should remain active for years to come."

Visitors carrying a brochure with them can approach a particular site or weapon, point their phone at the QR code connected to that site or weapon, and then be taken automatically to a web posting telling them more about the site or weapon.

With a brochure in hand, you can also "visit" Rock Island Arsenal from anywhere in the world without leaving your couch, simply by clicking through the QR codes in the brochures.

The brochures are available at locations open to the public around the installation, including the Visitor Control Center at the arsenal's Moline Gate, the RIA Museum, the Colonel Davenport House, and the Mississippi River Visitor Center operated by the Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A box containing the brochures has also been set up at Memorial Field.

A number of brochures have been provided to the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau for wider distribution in the community.

You can learn more about the brochures by sending an e-mail to the ASC History Office at "usarmy.ria.asc.list.hi@mail.mil" or by calling (309) 782-2178.

NOTE: This link will take you to another web posting where all of the links to the sites and weapons found in the brochures are listed: https://www.army.mil/article/226299