A breath of fresh air

City University London researchers have created a new system that enables people to discover useful information while they’re exploring the great outdoors.


Professor Jonathan Raper, Head of the Department of Information Science at City University London, has helped create a new system that enables people to discover useful information while they’re exploring the great outdoors.



As partners in the WebPark project, Professor Raper and his colleague DavidMountain have taken the idea navigating the urban jungle using your Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to a new environment.



The WebPark project was an EC Information Society Technologies partnership between City, EADS – a French information systems company, Geodan Mobile Solutions in the Netherlands, the National Civil Engineering Laboratory in Lisbon, the SwissNational Park and the University of Zurich.



“The system is web-based and runs on a smartphone or PDA via wireless internet, using a Global Positioning System (GPS) to pinpoint locations,” explained Professor Raper.


“People can track their progress along a walk and receive information on upcoming points of interest. In trials with the SwissNational Park, at lower levels, WebPark would alert people to the tree species around them. Whereas when they climbed higher, it would tell them to watch for ibex, edelweiss and golden eagles,” he added.



“In common with many national parks, the Swiss face the problem of an ageing visitor profile. WebPark offers a solution. It proved an excellent way to engage younger visitors. They enjoyed clicking on the web links to see where they were and what they could spot.”



To get the technology to market, the university has negotiated an agreement to exchange the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for equity and a seat on the board of a spin-off company called Camineo.