The BlueDiscovery System is an innovative and powerful technology platform that allows for the deployment of an efficient and low-cost Access Control and Visitor Information System to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The same concepts and main functions apply also to Tourist Ports.
Restrictions internal to Marine Protected Areas are often quite complex and not easy to interpret by the visitor. MPAs are divided in Zones with different access rules and allowing for specific activities only (free of charge or on payment). Surveillance tasks are in general difficult to exercise and, above all, expensive, mainly because MPAs are often very wide and remote and surveillance resources (personnel, dedicated boats and equipment) are limited. Most importantly, efforts and resources required for surveillance are almost always subtracted to the capability of the Park to improve services to the visitors and to the environment itself. A critical aspect for marine Parks is the capability to manage efficiently and effectively all the required information to tourists and visitors.
BlueDiscovery contains and possibly overcome all of these issue; it introduces in fact a new and more efficient control model, by means of a real-time management and automatic support to all visitors during their visit, guiding them to ‘discover’ the hidden jewels of the marine area in an easy and immediate way and allowing for an overall optimization of the MPA resources. Purpose of the system is environmental conservation achieved through a cooperative and conscious use of the Nature Reserve by the visitor. Moreover, the system provides the capability to efficiently offer a rich set of added value services to tourists, visitors and to the local community.
Users and their needs
Marine Protected Areas and Tourist Ports are main stakeholders and users of the system, but the true end-user is the visitor, who shall be best supported during her/his entire visit.
BlueDiscovery is easily scalable to different applications:
- Management of Marine Protected Areas
- Access Control & Monitoring of visitors (to reduce costs for surveillance and optimize MPA’s resources)
- Tourist support & services provision (added revenues)
- Crowdsourcing capability (to increase environmental awareness on visitors)
- Management of Tourist Ports
- Management of customers and boats
- Support to mooring, beaching and launching
- Maintenance operations support
- Commercial support (link to administration tools)
- Support to coastal tourism (extension of MPAs and Ports)
- Tourist support & services provision
- Commercial services (local promotion & service offering)
- Support to leisure navigation
- Fleet Management & Telemetry
- Electronic Pilot Book (Portolano).
Some system functions are however of interest also to other organizations than the MPA itself, such as Environmental Organizations, to which the Marine Areas can easily 'export' the environmental and fauna reports thanks to an easy-to-use crowdsourcing feature, and National and International Organizations responsible for Safety (at sea and on land) interested to reports related to potential dangers to navigation and to the emergency call functionality.
Service/ system concept
The BlueDiscovery system is a Client-Server & DB-based architecture, consisting of a client mobile App free downloadable on any mobile device (smartphones and tablets), a web-GIS and an Operation & Maintenance Portal managed by the MPA/Port Operators to control accesses to the protected areas and to manage and configure the overall system and its services. A specific mobile management App is also available to be used directly on the territory by the MPA Operators to check for authorizations and to communicate with visitors (Park Operator Terminal).
For ‘extreme’ outdoor tourism (hiking, climbing and offshore), a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), external option to the system, can be easily integrated providing to the user also the Galileo SAR service to be interoperable to the International COSPAS-SARSAT Program.
The BlueDiscovery system functions can be easily adapted to the different applications and to the specific MPA’s needs and include:
- Easy monitoring of the marine area
- Efficient monitoring and management of visitors
- Management of services (accesses, authorizations, moorings, tourist guides,..)
- Notices/Warnings to visitors/mariners
- Promotion of local events to visitors
- Statistical analysis of tourists flows and MPA resources usage (to improve planning and services to users and to be able to develop real environmental protection strategies)
- Real-time bidirectional communication capability (visitor/MPA)
- Crowdsourcing function: possibility for the visitor to send to the MPA short text messages which may be accompanied by geo-referenced photos related to pre-configured categories (Environment/Safety)
The system provides the following services to the visitor:
- Tourist Information and automatic guides to profiled itineraries
- Light procedures in obtaining permits and authorizations
- Location Based Services (free or with payment: guides, local events, environment/safety related info, areas allowed for diving/fishing/anchoring, booking/payment of moorings and dockings, garbage collection and water/fuel provision at sea for leisure boats and many more)
- Augmented Reality contents & Virtual guides
- find-your-mates service, to easily locate and communicate with friends and relatives during outdoor activities (Social community)
- Commercial Services (advertising and promotion of local products and activities).
- Emergency Call (eCall), to provide to the outdoor tourist an important and easy-to-use Safe of Life tool during her/his visit.
Space Added Value
BlueDiscovery makes use of the newly available European Satellite Navigation features (EGNSS) of the EGNOS and Galileo Systemsto assess the quality of the positioning (high accuracy and reliability) and to provide improved service performance through Galileo high availability and continuity and its user authentication & position certification functions.
Thanks to the use of EGNOS and Galileo, the system generates GEO-referenced augmented reality contents absolutely precise and reliable, which will guide the tourist along its route in a simple and, above all, safe way. The distinctive features of the EGNSS systems (accuracy, reliability, position authentication and certification) are also crucial to the delivery of innovative location-based pay-per-use services and for the support of regulated services. For pay-per-use services (such as automatic tolling to the MPA or to mooring docks to Ports, or the booking & payment from remote of payment services) the Galileo Commercial Service (CS) provides authenticated, anti-spoofed and certified positioning, thus to avoid possible legal disputes between the user and the MPA/Port. The Galileo Commercial Authentication service is in fact based on additional navigation signal in a different frequency band with respect to the Galileo OS and on signal code encryption, allowing for increased robustness for professional applications. While Galileo CS is not available (2020), the EGNOS Integrity information and protection level are used to validate the user positioning. For regulatory services, to warn users on not permitted behaviours, such as GEO fences and speed limits, the Galileo Open Service (OS) and the EGNOS Integrity and position corrections, are used to provide a more robust and reliable positioning than GPS.
For hiking, climbing and offshore activities, a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) can be integrated to the system to provide to the user also the Galileo SAR service, to be interoperable to the International COSPAS-SARSAT Search & Rescue Satellite System.
The Feasibility Study has been successfully completed (November 30th 2017). All the Italian MPAs have been involved to assess their interest and willing to collaborate to the system definition and experimentation. Also, feedbacks from some tourist ports, foreign MPAs and from other Italian Orgs responsible for Environment and Navigation Safety were collected and considered.
A preliminary system prototype has been developed and initially tested at the Punta Campanella MPA (Sorrento Peninsula, Naples, Italy).
15 Italian protected areas out of 26 actively supported the study and validated the system functions and services and gave their formal Expression of Interest to the project followup.
The Demonstration Project is under preparation.