Attract more tourists with augmented reality (like Fort Lauderdale)

Tue, 2015-12-15 10:58 -- Kevin Ebi

Tourism is big business for many cities. And it's a zero-sum game, since if tourists are in some other city they can't be in yours. That's why I thought you might want a sneak preview of the latest high-tech arrow in Fort Lauderdale's tourism-boosting quiver.

What is YOUR city doing to attract travel-happy Millennials and other tech lovers? Are you content to let Fort Lauderdale and other progressive cities siphon them off? Or will you up your game with smart technologies? — Jesse Berst 

Is your city as tourist-friendly as you think it is? If it isn’t, you’re really missing out. Worldwide, 277 million jobs — 1 in 11 — are dependent on tourism. It’s a $7.6 trillion global impact, and cities are having to work harder to win their share of it.

Fort Lauderdale is upping the ante with its new augmented reality offerings powered by Council Associate Partner Civic Resource Group. And others are already looking at the technology to help people get around their cities faster and with more convenience (so they can spend more money.)

All the information brought together
CRG worked with Fort Lauderdale on a complete overhaul of the city’s digital tourism presence, resulting in a new website, mobile app and nearly a dozen kiosks. Each is part of Go Lauderdale, and pulls in information from a variety of sources, including Yelp, Google Places, Broward County Transit, Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Tourism Bureau.

The idea is to give people one place to go to get all the real-time information they need, whatever that information is. The city says the new suite is for residents and visitors alike, helping everyone experience the city like a local.

Introducing augmented reality
Perhaps the showcase of the suite is the new GoLauderdale smartphone app, which uses augmented reality to help people plan trips — and even see their destination before they arrive.

Travelers can get information on something by simply pointing their smartphone at it. And when planning a trip, the app shows users their next stop before they even start traveling toward it.

Since very few people have unlimited data plans on their smartphones anymore, the app was designed to provide convenience without triggering unnecessary downloads. All the necessary services are downloaded when the user installs the app; they don’t need to be online to use it while they are traveling around the city.

Tackling the issue of parking
Getting people to their destinations is another area that is getting much more attention from enterprising cities, and it doesn’t simply mean directing people to the nearest restaurant or theater. San Diego is using Augmented Reality Wayfinding technology from CRG to help solve one of the biggest annoyances of travelers: finding a parking spot.

A new app and online service, ParkItDTSD — short for Park It Downtown San Diego, helps people find parking spaces near their destinations. A network of sensors monitors whether a parking spot is available or not and helpful tips within the service tell people where and how long they can park for free.

CRG says while a lot of parking data is kept, it has rarely been shared. Each lot owner or service has kept the parking data to themselves. ParkItDTSD breaks down those silos, bringing all of the data together, the very definition of a smart city service.

The San Diego service adds augmented reality wayfinding since a parking spot may not be available right next to their destination. The service overlays directions over a live camera view to guide people from their parking spot.

More stories …
4 creative ways cities are using smart technologies to promote tourism
Report: Yes, smart parking apps can reduce congestion, pollution and other city woes
Civic Resource Group Int'l adds smart parking to its digital portfolio