Statue of Liberty Lights the World Again With the Help of Social Media

Give her your tired, your poor, your Torch Cams yearning to burn bright.

The National Park Service have been putting out feelers for internet service providers to install web feeds for the Statue of Liberty's popular TorchCam service to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.

Contractors had until Feb. 23 to respond to the National Park Service's request.  The unrestricted solicitation is the only bid of its kind for the TorchCam. The successful bidder will get rare access to the Statue of Liberty and her torch, but he or she will have to work quickly. According to the request for quotes, the web feed will have to be operational by Feb. 29.

The Statue of Liberty had been fitted with camera equipment in October 2011. EarthCam, an Internet monitoring service based in New Jersey, donated and installed camera equipment on the Statue's torch for real time recording and transmission via the Internet of images of New York Harbor, Ellis Island, the grounds of Liberty Island. But the company does not have the capability to broadcast this material over the Internet. A service provider must do that.


Successful completion of the bid would be a boon to ISPs, with the potential of the contract continuing through 2016.  The winning bidder would be responsible for installing and maintaining not just the web feed, but also the microwave dish station on Liberty Island and additional POP3 connections for the TorchCam feed.

However, the free ISP access is set to end in February--hence the request for solicitation.

 "TorchCam has become extremely popular with the public and has become a useful tool in promoting the park and its programs," the RFQ read. "It is an integral component of our New and Social Media program, and an efficient means of connecting with underserved audiences."

Similar feeds are in place at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and another is being floated for the Washington Monument.  There is still no word on whether rangers will use the TorchCam's social media capabilities to interact with visitors there.

The emphasis on social media is especially important for park rangers.  Since becoming operational, TorchCam has attracted a modest yet devoted following on the internet, garnering over 4,000 followers for the Statue of Liberty's Twitter account, as well as over 102,000 "likes" for the Statue of Liberty's Facebook account. 

The NPS has literally dozens of social media accounts for its 397 national parks, and some of its most popular Twitter accounts-like Yosemite National Park-have well over 12,000 followers. 

Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty aren't the most popular attractions on Twitter. That honor goes to @AFBurialGrndNPS, the Twitter portal for the Park Service's African Burial Ground, a first-of-its-kind national monument commemorating the resting place of nearly 15,000 free and enslaved Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries. 

The account has over 51,000 Twitter followers, by far the largest. Rangers commonly post links and tidbits to various African Ground-related stories, including the monument's inclusion in Zetta Elliot's "Ship of Fools."

The Facebook page for the African Burial Ground may be more heavily followed, but the Yosemite National Park seems to be more active, with over 76 wall photos, 36,000 "likes" and a comprehensive info page with links to Yosemite's NPS web portal.


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