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Digital tour guide for cyclists

In the region where Germany borders on the Netherlands, cyclists can for the first time take directions from a multimedia application on a PDA. The electronic guide not only shows cyclists the right direction, but also leads them to adventure highlights.

Wouldn´t it be a great idea to go on a bicycle tour with the children at the weekend – but where to? How can you find routes that don’t include sections of sharing busy main roads with cars and trucks? And where might there be a nice beer garden with a children’s playground for your lunch break, or maybe a farm that is open for public viewing? Difficulties in planning bicycle tours will soon be a thing of the past – certainly in the German-Dutch border region. Using a web-based planning tool, tourists can compile tours that suit their individual requirements and interests – for example a route suitable for children or senior citizens, or a particularly scenic route. Highlights such as a guided tour of a pig farm, or a cozy café, can be selected and included. Alternatively, tourists can choose from a variety of ready-compiled thematic routes. On the day of the tour, the excursionists rent a mobile device with a GPS receiver from the local tourist information office that contains all data needed for that particular tour. “Cyclists are guided along their previously planned tours with the aid of aerial photo-graphs, street maps and topographic maps,” explains Dr. Michael Gerhard, who coordinated the development of the tour guide system at the Fraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering ISST in Dortmund. The best thing about it is that, in contrast to existing bicycle navigation systems, cyclists are not only guided by spoken and visual directions. They are also provided with multimedia content extracted from a regional tourist database regarding places of special interest situated along their chosen route. They can also indulge in exciting video clips and podcasts if they so choose. Another novelty is that the digital maps used in this system cover all suitable tracks, even footpaths and farm tracks, whereas previous tour planners are merely based on official road and cycle path networks. Starting this summer, cyclists will be able to compile their own individual tours using the websites of the participating districts of Bocholt, Aalten and Winterswijk. Six standard routes, between 35 and 65 kilometers in length, will initially be available. The makers of the digital tour guide are planning not only to extend its regional coverage but also to adapt it for use by nordic walkers, roller-bladers and equestrians. Further, it is planned to integrate public transport services allowing possible return journeys by rail or bus. “The digital tour guide is seen as a reference for other projects,” says Gerhard, “particularly when it comes to using cross-border geodata for mobile tourist information and navigation applications.”

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Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom