VIRTUAL TOOLS ECOSYSTEM FOR PERIURBAN GREEN AREAS MONITORING AND PROMOTION: OUTCOMES AND OUTLOOKS OF THE INSUBRIPARKS PROJECT
Keywords: Periurban Parks, Green Areas, Cross-border Cooperation, Smart ICT, Information Systems, Sustainable Tourism
Abstract. Green areas such as natural and periurban parks provide support to biodiversity and landscape preservation while boosting local economic growth in their hosting territories, thanks to the establishment of eco-tourism activities. Smart management and promotion actions are vital for the sustainable exploitation of such benefits for citizens and visitors. These tasks may be hindered by a lack of economic resources and digital skills of public authorities but also by fragmented local political contexts to which these areas may be subjected. The parks in the Insubria region (between Southern Switzerland and Northern Italy) represent a relevant example of the above. The INSUBRIPARKS project aims at the harmonisation of management and promotion practices for the Insubria parks. The project activities encompass multiple actions, from the establishment of unified territorial marketing strategies to the development of supporting IT tools. Accordingly, this paper provides an overview of the IT tools ecosystem which was designed and developed within the project and an outlook on its role in empowering smart monitoring and promotion for these parks. Tools include a Web portal (enriched with Web mapping components) for a unified presentation of the tourism offers, an analysis framework for social media data exploitation in park visitors’ fluxes assessment, and a mobile tool for users’ engagement in the park areas monitoring. Alongside technical descriptions, lessons learned and residual challenges for the operative adoption of the tools are discussed as to their future improvements.