OPEN DATA CUBE APPLICATION TO USER-GENERATED GEODATA: VISITORS TURNOUT INVESTIGATION IN THE INSUBRIA NATURAL PARKS
Keywords: Open Data Cube, User-generated Geodata, Natural Parks, Tourism Management
Abstract. Green areas such as natural and periurban parks embed key assets for biodiversity and landscape preservation and environmental education. In most cases, they also boost local economic growth for their hosting territories thanks to the establishment of eco-tourism activities. Nevertheless, coordinated management and promotion actions between policymakers and promoters remain vital for the sustainable exploitation of these green areas. The knowledge of visitors dynamics across natural parks is necessary information necessary to drive parks management policies while being often a complex data to collect. To that end, this paper proposes the use of user-generated geodata, namely users’ location records provided by the Facebook Data for Good program, to assess visitors’ turnout for the natural parks of the Insubria Region, between Southern Switzerland and Northern Italy. The Open Data Cube technology, originally developed for managing satellite Earth observation data, was here adapted for processing and analysing the considered user-generated geodata. Space-time patterns of Facebook users’ presence in the period May 2020 – December 2021 were extracted to infer visitors’ fluxes and destinations preferences. Results pointed out differences between Italian and Swiss parks by outlining also most visited locations within each park. Despite limitations related to data representativeness (limited sample of Facebook app users with location history enabled on their devices) the integration of user-generated geodata in a cutting-edge and free and open-source data management platform, such as the Open Data Cube, turned out to be promising for the improvement of natural areas management practices.