On hand information for the mobile traveller

Whether touring museums in Madrid, island hopping in Greece or skiing in Finland, the WH@M project promises to make travellers’ lives considerably easier through an innovative multi-source information service accessible over mobile devices.

The 24-month IST project ended in January having integrated and tested a suite of software modules capable of gathering information from a wide range of public and private sources and disseminating it over the Internet, mobile phones and PDAs. The information services are user-defined and location-specific, providing tourists with up-to-the-minute information on weather forecasts, traffic conditions, hotel vacancies or the closest restaurant.

“WH@M offers a system of information access covering the travel and tourism sector, including an itinerary calculator that facilitates access to sites of interest based on the criteria selected by each user,” explains project coordinator Antonio Marqués at ETRA Investigación y Desarrollo in Spain. “One of the principal benefits is the possibility to reorganise plans while on the move based on real-time information and recommendations from the system.”

The range of information available over WH@M (an acronym for the World in your H@nds on the Move) together with its ease of use were among the features most highly prized by test users who trialled the system in Spain, Greece and Finland last year.

In Madrid, the project partners set up a city information service, covering the Spanish capital’s historic sites and museums as well as its restaurants, bars and hotels. In Greece, a similar service focused on regional coverage, providing information on air and sea transport. While in the arctic resort of Levi in Finland, the service focused on the area’s many outdoor activities.

In all three test sites the system incorporated real-time services, such as weather, traffic and public transport information – perhaps the most important type of information for any traveller on the move. In addition, the itinerary calculator is capable of giving directions from a user’s location to a selected site of interest.

“Generally, users were satisfied with the system, with the content provided and with how to access it,” Marqués notes. “These trials have allowed us to further refine it based on their evaluations.”

Unlike many similar information systems, tourists can also use WH@M to communicate among themselves, sharing experiences and picking up first-hand travel tips through a message forum – an especially useful information source for independent travellers.

Though the system itself has yet to be commercialised, various components of it are being incorporated into the products of the project partners.

Antonio Marqués
Director of New Technologies
Tres Forques, 147
E-46014 Valencia
Tel: +34-96-3134082
Fax: +34-96-3503234
Email: amarques.etra-id@grupoetra.com

Source: Based on information from WH@M

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