Conference Paper

Geographic Information Technologies for analysing the digital footprint of tourists


For the purpose of analysing the use of the city of Gironaby tourists, the tourism research group (INSETUR) of the University of Girona planned a project that involved the collection of movement data and its subsequent analysis using geospatial techniques applied by the university’s GIS Laboratory (SIGTE), the results of which are presented in this paper.

The methodology used by the research group to collect this data was a GPS device provided by the Tourist Office that visitors had to carry on their person throughout the one-day visit of the city. At the end of the visit, the tourists returned the device and answered a qualitative questionnaire.

The project has collected tourist movement data over the course of 9 months, generating a total of 1,339 tracks or 4,752,804 waypoints and 1,339 questionnaires. This communication describes the GIS technical solution that has been adopted in order to carry out the geospatial analysis of this data.

In order to fulfil the stated purpose, the research group carried out an analysis to identify the city streets most visited by tourists and the capacity of attraction of certain heritage elements.

The term “city” in this case refers to the historical centre, clearly delimited by natural elements (river) or anthropic elements (walls), which has been established as the area of study.

In order to carry out this study, over 1,339 GPS tracks have been captured thanks to the collaboration of tourists. These files (in .gpx format) contain, with a certain margin of error, all the information on the itinerary completed by the visitors to the city (route, distribution of time along the route, etc.) and form the basis of this project.

Having evaluated several work tools (both proprietary and open source), the research team has opted to import the files in .gpx format into a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database and to use PostGIS spatial tools to analyse the information contained in the .gpx files on the basis of SQL sentences.

The main challenge of the project consists of breaking down each track into a list of streets (or street arrays) along which each track passes. As such, it will be possible to know the sections of the streets through which each track passes and the length of time invested in each of these sections.

The area of study itself poses a challenge, since the typical dim, narrow streets of an old quarter are susceptible to poor satellite coverage. It is therefore necessary to correct the tracks generated in order not to lose too much data for the subsequent analysis.

This challenge will consist of structuring the data in such a way that the planned analysis is both possible and agile.

All of the processes carried out will be shown in the communication presentation.



Presenter Biography: 

Rosa OLIVELLA: Head of Innovation Projects at the GIS Centre of the University of Girona. She graduated in geography in 1997 and specializes in research, education and professional development in the fields of the environment, spatial planning and GIS. She has been a researcher for 4 years in the Environment Institute of the University of Girona, developing research in sustainable mobility, new methods for environmental impact assessments, etc. She has been a professor of “Environment and territorial intervention” at the University of Girona (2000-2002). She has also been a visiting professor in several seminars and short courses in environment and GIS at the University of Girona and Barcelona Tech (UPC) and has collaborated as an environmental scientist with the Municipality of Celrà. Major contributions mainly to project management, environment analysis and GIS in education.

Josep SITJAR is Graduated in Geography at the University of Girona (2007) and currently studying the ‘Master in Environmental’ at the same University. He has specialized in GIS since 2007, when he started at SIGTE, the GIS Center of the University of Girona. He has been visiting professor in several seminars and short courses in GIS at the University of Girona and the University of Salzburg (Z GIS Summer School 2010). He's professor of 'Remote Sensing' and 'Visualization and Cartography' module at the UNIGIS-Girona master, and also has contributed at this master with the development of distance learning materials in GIS. As GIS technician he's involved on the development of many projects related to geospatial information.

Toni HERNÁNDEZ: Graduated in computer Science at the University of Girona and Environmental sciences for the same university. Since 2000 he is been working with SIGTE on several GIS web-based projects as a web developer and database models designer. He is also the administrator of the SIGTE network. For the three last years he is been the professor of the ‘Spatial Databases’ module at the UNIGIS-Girona master and has participated in some open-source-gis-solutions workshops. He has made major contributions to opensource GIS soluctions: webmaps, data processing, data base, etc.

Lluis VICENS: Graduated in geography in 2001, he has specialized in GIS since 2001. He is currently a staff member of GIS Technical Projects at the GIS Centre of the University of Girona, and co-responsible for technical assessment in GIS application projects and training activities. Has been a visiting professor in several seminars and short courses in GIS at the University of Girona, Barcelona Tech (UPC) , the Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry in Brno, Czech Republic, and the Autonomous University of Mexico State in Toluca, Mexico. He is co-author of several papers presented at specialized GIS conferences and is also involved in the
development of distance learning materials in GIS. He is responsible for the Open Source GIS
Users Meeting.

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