Academic Track Paper

FOSS4G in education: a multi-disciplinary case study for the promotion of slow tourism


Michela Arnaboldi, Maria Brovelli, Marco Minghini

Presenter Biography: 

PhD Marco Minghini has been studying at Politecnico di Milano since 2005. In 2008 he obtained a Bachelor degree with honours in Environmental Engineering with a thesis on the ortho-rectification of satellite images using LiDAR DTM. In 2010 he obtained a Masters degree with honours in Environmental and Geomatic Engineering with a thesis on the georeferencing and WebGIS publishing of historical maps. He completed his PhD in 2011-2013 with a thesis on the use of open source software, including mobile data collection and virtual globes for citizen science applications. Since 2014, he is a temporary research fellow at the Geomatics Laboratory of the Como Campus of Politecnico di Milano. Current research focuses on geoWeb services and geoWeb applications, VGI and citizen science.


The importance of the tourism industry to the world economy has impressively grown over the last decades, and the paradigm of slow tourism has emerged as a new way to achieve sustainability through the values of patience, peace of mind, environmental friendliness, cultural understanding, and rediscovery of knowledge. GIS-based technological innovation is a key element for that purpose, but it is sometimes disregarded and sometimes not coupled to a proper managerial infrastructure which operates and maintains it. With this in mind, a work is presented aiming at the slow tourism promotion in the popular region around Cernobbio, located on Lake Como (Northern Italy) in a charming naturalistic area. Carried out in the frame of a larger Interreg research project, entitled “The paths of Via Regina” and focused on the valorisation of territorial and cultural heritage, the study was conducted within the LaPS (Lake Poli School) educational initiative, i.e. a course given at the Como Campus of Politecnico di Milano within the MSc in Management Engineering. Named “Cross Boundary Processes”, this course is attended by students from Environmental, Management and Science Computing Engineering who work in groups to develop real projects proposed by real organizations with the support of junior and senior academics. The problem was first analyzed from the managerial perspective through a strategic segmentation, a targeting of the customer groups, an analysis of competitors, and a positioning. FOSS4G was then used to develop concrete products which could fulfill the project goals according to the managerial analysis performed. Acquisition of the relevant geospatial data from both official sources (regional and local administrations, and other stakeholders) and field surveys, followed by an ad hoc pre-processing, represented the starting point of the work. Two Web viewers were finally built which display a number of suggested paths for hiking, trekking, and mountain biking, showing also the tourism and cultural points of interest available along them. Several contextual information (administrative and land use data, transport facilities, cultural heritage and tourism sites, hotels, restaurants and places of events) is also available within the viewers. GeoServer was used to serve data as WMS/WFS layers. The first viewer, built using the OpenLayers, GeoExt and Ext JS libraries, provides an optimized data interaction from traditional computers (desktop, notebook, and netbook). The second viewer, built for touch-screen enabled mobile devices (e.g. tablets and smart phones) and intended to be used on the field during the journey, was instead developed by coupling OpenLayers with the jQuery mobile framework. A promotion plan useful for both presenting and advertising these products was finally achieved through a dedicated website as well as social network interaction. All in all, the work represents a valuable example of using FOSS4G in education as a means to foster multi-disciplinary cross-collaboration. Developed in cooperation with different stakeholders (e.g. administrations and cultural associations focused on slow tourism promotion), the developed tools constitute a useful prototype for the main Interreg project as well as for mapping parties which will be organized by the stakeholders themselves.

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