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GPS interactive georeferenced tourist guide

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#1
ciskoh

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Hi all,

I've been recently asked for an advice on the following subject: a small publishing house would like to transform their historically-focused travel guides into hypertexts for android cellphones and I-phones, and they would like a feature that allows to interact with the users position (gps). In other words a feature that gives you instruction on how to reach a POI and once there gives you information on the place.

My first thought has been to look into kml/kmz kind of stuff, and it seems a possibility, even if I'm not clear on the license subject (can I use kml/kmz for commercial purposes? can I sell them?). Bu I see some obvious limitations to this: need to be online, small choice of content, etcetera.

I come therefore to you, allmighty cartographers, for an advice. Would you go for Gmaps?, would you go for a custom map that works on OpenStreetMap?, a shapefile on minigvSig or what else?
Do you have any experience on this kind of mapping solutions?

As always,
thanks in advance

Matteo JR

#2
Dennis McClendon

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There was a lot of talk about this at NACIS this year, and the follow-on WhereCampMSN.

I'd say the first question is whether you want the tourist guide maps to be part of a larger world or country map. If you want them to tie to maps in adjacent countries, to use the routing services provided by Google or Bing or Michelin, that leads you in one direction. If they can be stand-alone graphics that just need to be geographically aware of the user's position, I think the GeoPDF format being promoted by Avenza may be promising.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#3
tonyw

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I come therefore to you, allmighty cartographers, for an advice. Would you go for Gmaps?, would you go for a custom map that works on OpenStreetMap?, a shapefile on minigvSig or what else?
Do you have any experience on this kind of mapping solutions?

Matteo JR


Hi,
What is the scale of your tour? A driving trip or a walk through a historic city? If a walking tour, you could post QR codes or bar codes in strategic locations. Pointing a web enabled cell phone would take the visitor to the web page where they could read the info on their hand held device. This wouldn't require GPS as the visitors would encounter the QR codes as they walked.

If the scale is a driving trip, you could consider a system similar to geocaching where all the POIs can be downloaded at once (maybe even from a secure website that requires a passcode the visitor pays for). The POIs can be arranged by proximity as well as include brief text to describe the feature or attraction if a visitor wanted to go to a particular attraction. Clicking on a link in the POI information can bring up a webpage with more information, pictures, video, etc.

One caveat to any approach that relies on pulling data to a handheld device for out-of-country visitors: on a recent trip to the USA, we came across several visitor and interpretative centres using barcode/QR codes where pointing your web enabled phone would call up the associated web page with information. However, being visitors to the USA, using our cell phone data was expensive, $3/MB. We had data turned off the whole time while in the USA so we could not access the information.

Another caveat, we did not see anyone using the QR codes, either they were also out-of-country visitors without a data plan, or they didn't know about QR codes. So keep your approach simple for maximum market reach.

If your client already publishes paper based tourist guides, instead of replacing the guides, perhaps consider adding value to the paper guides. The first suggestion is to offer a download of POIs (you'll have to work out the technology and licensing as this will be a commercial venture). A notation in the paper guide will point out the associated POI to use for navigation. The second option is to print QR codes in the guide that call up google maps or Bing maps (depending on availability for your country) with the destination pintpointed and directions from the current location. This is my preference as I like to read about potential sights ahead of time and I don't particularly want to do it on a cell phone.

Also consider that some jurisdictions prohibit use of handheld devices while driving, so your client's guide will only be useful if there is a passenger in the car to operate the device if the solution is interactive.

The question to ask your client is "what shortcoming are you wishing to overcome with your current guide"? Then look for the solution. It may or may not involve technology. Currently they may be looking for a problem to solve using GPS.

-Tony

#4
ciskoh

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Hi Dennis,

Thanks for the hint. My problem with geoPDF (which on the design side are much more interesting) is that for what I understand it ties the customer (and the developer) to a paid app both for creating and for using these maps, which is not really what I've been looking for.
Are you saying that something like that has been done already on gmaps?

#5
Dennis McClendon

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I think most people are aware that you can easily add markers, shapes, and popups to Google and Bing Maps. Personally, I prefer the more sophisticated basemaps provided by ArcGIS Online for their similar service. So I'm trying to determine if you want to add a modest amount of information to an existing map of the whole world--such as gmaps--or want to make your existing maps location-aware by tying them to GPS.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#6
ciskoh

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Hi all and thank you all for the answers,
I've sent to the customer a preliminary spec for the project to be carried away on GoogleMaps. The solution i thought was using online maps, and for the content, an hyperlink to a file in the cellphone's sd card, thus allowing to give the map for free and to sell the content. But I'm still open to suggestions

For the questions asked: the guide is ment to be about portion of Milan's centre, so each map would cover an area of 5-10 squared km, with 20 to 50 max POI.
The priorities for my customer are: GPS interaction, low costs of implementation (surprised aren't ya?), easyness of use for the final user. That's why I've avoided more intersting solutions on the design side to concentrate on Gmaps.
Btw the QR code solution is very interesting, I'll look into it.

Please keep posting suggetsions and experiences




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