The tourist expert
Born in Merano, studied in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Travelling has been a constant in his life for as long as he can remember. After concluding his studies at the Cattolica University in Milan, he finished his training at the Laimburg professional institute and went back to his home town of Merano. He has been working in his family hotel, the "Meisters Hotel Irma", since 2005 and has also taken on a public role as the president of the MeranoTourism Bureau.
When and how did you learn about OpenStreetMap and Open Data? Do you use these technologies even during your spare time?
I learnt about the topic at the last editions of the "Barcamp Südtirol", an unmissable event for everyone all over the world interested in tourism and technology. I'm always happy as an end user when I spot a user-friendly, original and easily downloadable app.
In your own opinion, how important are these new technologies for the tourism industry?
I think it is incredibly important to implement new technologies in our industry. Multimedia tools will, in time, replace traditional ones: it is essential we stay up to speed on these topics. Open Data are ‘digital gold', as was aptly conveyed by TIS innovation park during the Innovation Festival 2013. The time has come to recognise the true value of Open Data and to ensure everyone has access to them in order to improve life quality. The Tourism Bureau of Merano has taken matters in its own hands: since 2008 guests can avail themselves of our text message service offers. Tourists receive weather forecast and tips on events via text message – proof of its success is the fact that it is still used to this very day. The event calendar on our web site, meran.eu, is implemented in a such a way that events are collected from three different databases. This is known as "aggregation of open data". Without OpenStreetMap, the "MeranO Real Time Bus" project would not have been what it is today.
The town of Merano, together with other partners, started a unique project in South Tyrol. In autumn 2013 it introduced the "MeranO Real Time Bus" app to the world.
The "MeranO Real Time Bus" project aims to provide real-time information to locals and tourists based on buses location and timetable. This tool will contribute in lower the waiting times and a in rising bus punctuality. In this way, end users decide whether to to use public transports.
What is the role of the Merano Tourism Bureau and what do you expect from it?
Tourism is a key industry in South Tyrol's economy: our competence in these matters meant that we were called to share our experience, contributing to the needs of guests and tourists. The Tourism Bureau of Merano implemented this project swiftly and efficiently together with its other partners, the TIS innovation park, SASA and the City of Merano.
The project was presented in September 2013. What kind of feedback did you receive from the citizens?
"MeranO Real Time Bus" was first introduced during the Innovation Festival in 2013 and already back then received plenty of great feedback. It officially launched in December 2013 and, since then, we have received great feedback. Not only compliments, of which there were many, but also valuable suggestions on how to improve the service which we will take on board.
Is there any room for improvement or are we at a too early stage for that?
This is like all other multimedia projects: there's always room for improvement. We will be tackling some functions to improve the service. One of them is to integrate the single bus lines with their route into other portals.
Is the Tourism Bureau in Merano thinking of taking part in similar projects?
The potential of Open Data is huge. We would like to offer the same service for parking spots in the future, accessible via our meran.eu platform.