Experts support new tool promoting tourism
Experts from University of Edinburgh have partnered with Visit East Lothian to create a new tool to help visitors and residents enjoy its coastline and avoid overcrowding and queues.
The Visit East Lothian App – which is now available for download – uses live sensor data from eleven of East Lothian Council’s coastal carparks.
The app allows users to check the busyness of these areas before setting out or while travelling to the destination.
Traveltech for Scotland, a partnership initiative hosted and supported by the Edinburgh Futures Institute, kick-started the data innovation project to support the tourism industry’s Covid-19 recovery.
Making the most of real time data
The app – which covers the East Lothian coastline from Longniddry to Skateraw – uses real time data provided by sensor and mapping technology developed by EDINA and the IoT (Internet of Things) innovation teams at the University of Edinburgh.
East Lothian has some of the most scenic and visited beaches in Scotland and these can become very busy – especially in the summer.
The Visit East Lothian App can help to protect the area and ensure visitors enjoy East Lothian in a safe and responsible manner, developers say.
The app has a traffic light system to help visitors and residents avoid busy hotspots. Users can search for their preferred parking location and view the main facilities and amenities at each beach – and in surrounding towns and villages – at a glance. It also shows a range of accommodation in the area.
East Lothian Council staff on the ground have the ability to manually add and update details, so that those looking to visit the beach will have the most up-to-date information.
The project is part of Scotland’s Traveltech work enabling the use of technology in the tourism industry, in hospitality businesses and by visitors to maximise their travel experience. The partnership initiative, Traveltech for Scotland, is embedded in the University of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute which has enabled the project to work with numerous experts and access research and capacity from across the University.
“The creation of the Visit East Lothian App has been a great example of collaborative working between East Lothian Council teams and the University of Edinburgh departments to help solve a visitor management issue and produce an extremely useful tool for visitors and locals alike.” says Jamie Baker, Service Manager, Economic Development, East Lothian Council.
Traveltech for Scotland works with and supports more than 100 traveltech organisations in the sector to help Scotland’s economy recover in a sustainable fashion, rebuild and thrive. It is supported by the multidisciplinary and collaborative ethos of Edinburgh Futures Institute.
“This project shows what data can do to help tourism in Scotland. Capturing and sharing live ‘busyness’ data with visitors to East Lothian’s beaches will mean that more people will be able to enjoy more of the coastline and its local businesses, more of the time, without places becoming too busy. This technology has the potential to help even more tourism destinations better manage their hotspots. It is just one of many data-driven initiatives at the University of Edinburgh, part of its commitment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City and Region Deal, which attracted £270m of government investment.” Joshua-Ryan Saha, Director, Traveltech for Scotland.
“This project is a great example of the innovative data driven solutions that the University of Edinburgh is creating with partners as part of the City Regional Deal for Edinburgh and South East Scotland. The University’s EDINA and Data Technology teams have combined live IoT sensor data and geospatial mapping into an intuitive mobile application. We have created a realtime information system to support and inform sustainable tourism by reducing impacts of excessive car journeys and over capacity visits on the environment and the local communities for whom these natural beauty spots are their home.” Gavin McLachlan, Vice Principal and Chief Information Office (CIO).
The free app is available on Android handsets from the Google Play Store Google PlayStore and for Apple handsets from the Apple App Store.
The app links to the brand new Visit East Lothian website, which has just been launched.
“We are delighted to have launched the Visit East Lothian App which is a great new asset at the forefront of using innovative technology in a visitor management capacity. The app is just one of the exciting initiatives that have been delivered by the Visit East Lothian team in response to the Covid-19 pandemic all of which aim to ensure that tourism, which is a major contributor to the economy, continues to flourish”, says Elaine Carmichael, Visit East Lothian.