What if you could hold Lake Tahoe in the palm of your hand?
Thanks to two new basin-specific apps, you — almost — can. Beach access and event information is only a click away with Big Blue Concierge or Tahoe Beaches in your pocket.
The mobile applications traveled vastly different development paths, but both aim to broaden access to regional information for the growing number of digital natives playing on Tahoe’s shores.
A concierge in your pocket
When Paula Peterson lost her job at the casino, she needed to reinvent herself. After 30 years in the customer service industry, she wanted to continue her career as a concierge even though the traditional track was changing.
So last March, the longtime South Lake Tahoe local approached an app developer to create what’s now the Big Blue Concierge, a mobile guide that covers activities and services around the lake from best outdoor restaurants to hiking trails around Emerald Bay.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of pages,” Peterson said. “My goal is to make a living and also show people all the wonderful things there are to do in Tahoe. My goal is to fill in all the blanks.”
The free app — which works with both iPhones and Androids and can be found under the name “bigbluec” at the app store — took hundreds of hours to develop and cost $1,000, according to Peterson.
Since Peterson doesn’t want to transfer costs to app users, she plans to generate revenue by charging businesses to have a listing on the program. Peterson has already signed six companies and hopes to eventually grow that number by a hundredfold.
“The potential for income is huge … So far all the business owners say it’s a no brainer,” she said.
A digital shoreline
Seventy-two miles of shoreline circle Lake Tahoe, with hundreds of sandy coves tucked among the trees and nestled below discrete trailheads.
Enter the Tahoe Fund’s Tahoe Beaches app, a detailed program that includes more than 50 public beaches and amenity information. The app’s founders hope that it will both help people access the beaches and prevent recreationists from forging their own trails to the water.
“We were trying to figure out a way to improve environmental stewardship and recreation in the area,” Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry said.
A handful of popular beaches draw the majority of Tahoe’s 2 million visitors, and the Tahoe Beaches app aims to spread out those crowds, Berry said.
The Tahoe Fund started work on the program about a year and a half ago. They compiled data and collaborated with the seven public beach agencies around the lake to bring together a comprehensive guide of the area. The $50,000 app was co-funded by the California Tahoe Conservancy through the Lake Tahoe License Plate Program.
“It will open up accessibility to these beaches. I’ve lived here for 10 years, but I always go to the same two or three beaches,” Berry said. “On a hot day, people will do anything they can to get into the lake.”