In recent years, the massive spread of smartphones, and mobile devices in general, has radically changed the use of a wide range of services.
In this context the tourism sector is no exception and, indeed, it’s among those who suffered the most disruptive changes, by transforming, almost completely, what until a few years ago would have been the typical experience of a traveler. Just look at the enormous amount of tools for comparing flight prices and purchasing tickets online, web portals specialized in booking hotels, apps to find a rate a restaurant based on used generated content.
This new concept of tourism needs information that must be geolocalized, accessible in real-time, open and constantly updated by the users themselves.
Open Tour is a collaborative project that aims to develop an international community for the creation and dissemination of tourist sights’ datasets in Open Data format. The goal is to provide a mobile service that allows travelers to plan short personalized tours starting from their available time, location, interests.
Through a single mobile app, in fact, all the available datasets can be downloaded and used even in offline mode, overcoming the Internet access lack that usually affects tourists traveling outside their country, where telephone operators don’t guarantee connectivity.
For each city, the dataset construction, translation and updating will be handled by the community members; all datasets are available on the web portal where they can be downloaded or modified, based on Wikipedia’s collaborative model.
The project is based on an Open Data template for the description of city sights, named Open Tourist Sites. OTS is an open standard for the cataloging and management of tourist sites within a given city. The OpenTour standard is characterized by an Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The mobile app, developed for Android operating systems, represents the interface through which users can access the information. It is also developed in Open Source under CC BY-SA 4.0 license and available for free. Thanks to its custom algorithm, the app will be able to create real-time personalized itineraries based on user’s time available and his position.
The app received several awards. It won the second prize of the “AppPalermo” contest sponsored by the municipality of Palermo, with the aim of facilitating the access to its Open Data datasets and increasing information transparency. It has also been awarded with the first prize at the first edition of the “Android App Festival Sicilia”, held in May 2014 in Santo Stefano di Camastra (ME), at the “Mob App Awards 2014” at SMAU Milan for the category “Travel and Tourism,” and it was selected as app of the month by the international blog of interactive design abduzeedo.com.
Open Tour’s greatest ambition is to lead the development of a community in order to create the first open portal on tourism and promote it globally. If, on the one hand, the creation of an engaged community is the basis for each collaborative and open project to succeed, and there are numerous examples to prove it, on the other hand it can be the main driving force enabling, as well as a rapid and widespread expansion, a substantial reduction of development costs and a better scalability.