TRACKING TOURISTS WITH GPS-TECHNOLOLOGY



TRACKING TOURISTS WITH GPS-TECHNOLOLOGY

Authors

Sven Gross, Hochschule Harz – University Of Applied Sciences, Thomas Spangenberg, Hochschule Harz – University Of Applied Sciences, Anne Menzel, Hochschule Harz – University Of Applied Sciences

Description

This paper reports on a study analysing the mobility behaviour and the needs of tourists.

Abstract

This paper reports on a study analysing the mobility behaviour and the needs of tourists. The first aim is to provide an overview of the principal tourism mobility analysis methods. As it is difficult to classify them all, the most widely utilised shall be presented and discussed (e.g., direct observation, time-space-budgets, mental maps, volunteered geographic information, using GSM-data of mobile network operators, camera-based systems, GPS-tracking). In this contribution the focus is on a methodology and software developed by the Hochschule Harz, University of Applied Sciences in Germany.
GPS receivers are considered to be accurate and reliable. That is the reason why the authors have decided to record and evaluate the mobility behavior with the help of GPS-technology. Participant movements were tracked over a period of time and a subsequent face-to-face interview was implemented in order to address the needs and motives directly related to the GPS data recorded. This structured interview enables connections between the path data and the personal data (e.g., motives, needs, travel data, personal experiences) to be made. The real innovation on this methodology is that the GPS-data are directly read out on mobile tablet-computer and combined with a face-to-face questioning by using the tablet. For the survey the “Asus Eee Pad Transformer” tablet, based on the Android operating system, was used. In this context, an innovative application (App) was developed, which combines the survey via touch screen with the digital connection of the Columbus devices and thus the visualisation of the GPS-tracks on a map. This can be considered innovative as some analyses (e.g. rest times) can be directly integrated into the analysis. The participant can thus be confronted with precise questions about certain waypoints, route sections or points of interest. The basis for the map is OpenStreetMap – a community project aiming to create a free world map, as it offers several details and map styles. In addition, the App possesses statistical analyse modules, which allow survey’s results (GPS-tracks inclusive) to be directly exported into the statistical programme SPSS and can be fully used offline. Following the interview a detailed analysis of all results in SPSS is undertaken. Furthermore, by using a geographic information system (ESRI ArcGIS 10) an extensive examination of the GPS-tracks of all participants can be achieved.
Another important emphasis is to present first experiences and results of two different studies concerning GPS-tracking. From November to December 2012 the first GPS-tracking-study was carried out in Wernigerode and its surroundings in the Harz region in Germany. The survey was conducted in selected anchor points of the city centre as well as in some hotels in Wernigerode. The participants (day and overnight visitors) were handed provided a GPS-tracker (Columbus V-900) which they carried with them throughout their visit. At the end of the day the tour was evaluated. By conducting this study (pre-test?), valuable information to carrying out the project was gained, among other aspects the App was improved. Some difficulties were caused by positioning points located far-off the visitor’s actual position. These “outliers” occurred mainly in buildings, through reflections on wall buildings, slopes, valleys, stretches of water, ice and snow or due to dampness (e.g. in the woods, below clouds, because of clothes, when the device was carried in a pocket). The resulting miscalculations were removed in a revised version of the app by smoothing the algorithms and normalising extreme values (e.g. in the altitude profile and during speed).
In spring 2013 the second survey is planned. The aims of this study are to measure the mobility behavior of hikers (tourists and inhabitants) in the Harz Mountains, to identify gaps in the hiking trail network and give recommendations for future hiking projects in the Harz region. The examination takes place at a staged hiking trail and a natural trail (not staged) to evaluate the differences between both. The purpose is to find out, which components influence the attractiveness of a hiking trail – natural elements (e.g., scenic view of a rolling landscape) or staged elements (structured experience-zone). Furthermore, suggestions for improving the design of hiking trails (e.g. signages) shall be given.

Finally, the methodology used will be discussed, the experiences will be illustrated as well as strengths and weaknesses will be identified.



Sven Gross
Professor of Transport Carrier Management
Hochschule Harz – University of Applied Sciences
Friedrichstrasse 57-59
38855 Wernigerode
Germany
Tel: ++49 3943 – 659 279
Fax: ++49 3943 – 659 5279
eMail: sgross@hs-harz.de


Thomas Spangenberg
Hochschule Harz – University of Applied Sciences
Friedrichstrasse 57-59
38855 Wernigerode
Germany
Tel: ++49 3943 – 659 361
Fax: ++49 3943 – 659 5361
eMail: tspangenberg@hs-harz.de


Anne Menzel
Hochschule Harz – University of Applied Sciences
Friedrichstrasse 57-59
38855 Wernigerode
Germany
Tel: ++49 3943 – 659 209
Fax: ++49 3943 – 659 5209
eMail: amenzel@hs-harz.de

Publisher

Association for European Transport