THE PROJECT

An integrated application platform to protect and promote cultural and tourist sites.

The XENIOS project aims to develop services for the short-, medium-, and long-term forecast of extreme natural phenomena and natural disasters in sites of tourist and cultural interest, which are also vulnerable to natural hazards. The ultimate objective is to contribute towards a more effective management and mitigation of these risks.
In addition, the project aspires to enhance safety and improve the tourism product at these sites, through a mobile app which will offer visitors prompt and reliable information.

Summary

Tourism is a key sector driving economic growth in Greece. Thus, it deserves maximum attention and investment of effort for offering a high-class tourist product to visitors, who need to feel safe and relaxed during their visit or stay. A positive experience for tourists starts with the characteristics of the site they are visiting, be it archeological, cultural, environmentally unique, entertaining, etc. However, they also need to feel that attention is being paid to them and their well-being. This attention includes provision of relevant information on the elements of the site that are of interest to them and a feeling that they are safe.
The XENIOS project combines the increase of safety with the improvement of the tourist product in these areas, through a mobile app that provides timely and reliable information to visitors.
Depending on the nature of the information, forecasts are designed to be available in the form of intelligible maps, alerts or brief reports, through an online application and mobile app, which have been designed according to the needs of the different end-user categories. The XENIOS system—that hosts these services—operates interactively throughout all risk management levels, from the local (cultural/tourist site) to the regional and national ones, exchanging information and knowledge with real-time status reports and updates. To develop these services, satellite, meteorological, field, and aerial data are processed and analyzed intelligently, in order to provide predictions in different spatial and temporal scales. The experience and expertise of the collaborating research and business partners ensures both a timely planning and a sound implementation of the services and final platform. Finally, all opportunities for commercial exploitation of the platform are being thoroughly investigated via the composition of a comprehensive business plan.

OBJECTIVES

XENIOS proposes solutions for the:

  • provision of comprehensive and timely information to the competent site management bodies;
  • support of these bodies in employing different means for protecting both the visitors and the surrounding area from natural events and disasters. Communication with the visitors is achieved through a mobile application that also offers rich tourist content.
PROJECT CAPABILITIES
  • 1.

    Online map of different natural hazards’ danger forecast for tourist and cultural sites, at multiple spatial and temporal scales, provided to authorized authorities and organizations (e.g., Hellenic National Tourism Organisation, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, General Secretariat for Civil Protection, etc.).

  • 2.

    Ability to simulate the spatial behavior of fire at a local level, in order to prepare and adopt the necessary protection measures for the site and its visitors.

  • 3.

    Detection of precursor events that occasionally increase risk (e.g., increased visitors’ number at high-risk locations).

  • 4.

    Smartphone app to continuously monitor the number and dispersion of visitors at the site, which also informs them of points of interest and sends them warnings and instructions in case of an emergency or problem.

  • 5.

    Call center, through which the site manager may receive emergency calls from visitors, identifying the caller’s location at the same time.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

Project Research Team

The project team comprises five research institutes (FMRS – AUTh, INRASTES – NCSRD, ELGO – DIMITRA, KEMEA, SNPMB) and two SMEs (Creative People, Realiscape Typorama).

Coordinator of XENIOS is the laboratory of Forest Management and Remote Sensing Laboratory (FMRS) of the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment of AUTh. The main role of the coordinator is to strengthen communication and cooperation between the partners and to ensure the successful implementation of all project’s actions and objectives, ensuring the effective collaboration of all partners. The consortium possesses the necessary experience and expertise to ensure both the timely and comprehensive design of the services, as well as their implementation.

See more about the project partners here.

METHODOLOGY

Identification of pilot sites: In the context of the project, XENIOS will be deployed and tested in two demonstration sites: Samaria Gorge in Chania, Crete, with the managing authority of which being a project partner, and the archeological site of Dion in Pieria. The latter was identified after the project start, after consultation with the responsible authority, namely, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria.

Identification of end-users needs via questionnaires and interviews and definition of the XENIOS system’s specifications.Development of services for different natural hazards’ danger forecasting, addressed primarily to the managers of cultural/tourist sites. These include:

    • short-term forecast for the occurrence of extreme meteorological phenomena and floods at regional / local scale
    • fire risk assessment at three scales: short-term (3-7 days), midterm (per week during the tourist season or fire season) and long-term (climate change). Particularly:
      • The short-term fire risk assessment combines the FWI meteorological index with the systematic assessment of the condition of live fuels from satellite imagery. The short-term local assessment combines meteorological information with fuel maps and morphological data of the area of interest. Copernicus Sentinel satellite imagery is also used, so it is possible to generate spatial information on vegetation status (fuel) at local and regional level, with high spatial resolution (10 m) and a time step of five to ten days.
      • The midterm fire danger assessment is implemented by AUTh and is based on medium-resolution resolution satellite data combined with fuel type maps, topographic features, and variables related to anthropogenic sources of fire ignition (e.g., road network, agricultural areas, etc.).
      • The long-term impact of climate change on the behavior and frequency of fires and extreme weather conditions is achieved by using appropriate databases and models. The prediction and behavior of a potential fire and the risk assessment of natural hazards for the study area are implemented by ELGO, KEMEA and Creative People.

Implementation of the XENIOS platform. It is implemented by Creative People with the scientific guidance of the research partners.

Development of services addressed to the visitors of the cultural/tourist sites. These services have been designed to be provided mainly through the mobile application, although the latter interacts with the XENIOS platform. These are the following:

    • SMS warning about possible danger.
    • Voice communication with the call center in case of emergency.
    • Personalized multilingual guided
    • 3D and 2D portrayals of site’s main attraction points.

Implementation of the mobile application. It is implemented by Realiscape Typorama in collaboration with Creative People and with the scientific guidance of the research partners.

Data privacy, fully compliant with the new legislation governing the EU Member States (2016/679, GDPR).

The XENIOS project is designed and implemented through the following Work Packages (WPs)
Work Package title Activity Category WP leader
WP1: User requirements, specifications and conceptual design of the XENIOS platform IR: Industrial Research AUTh
WP2 Development of content for visitors for the XENIOS pilot sites ED: Experimental Development HAO – DΕMΕTER
WP3: Development of methodologies and services for forecasting short-term risk of natural hazards and protection of sites and citizens ED: Experimental Development AUTh
WP4: Development of medium- to long-term natural risk assessment services ED: Experimental Development NCSRD
WP5: Platform and application development IR: Industrial Research CP
WP6: Tests and pilot application of the XENIOS platform ED: Experimental Development AUTh
WP7: Business plan development TFS: Technical Feasibility Studies AUTh
PROJECT RESULTS

The XENIOS system is tested and demonstrated in the Samaria Gorge and the Archeological Site of Dion in Pieria. The system demonstration aims at:

  • improving the protection of tourist and cultural sites from dangers due to natural causes (fires, climate change, extreme weather events, etc.);
  • enhancing the protection of visitors to cultural and tourist sites with timely information and real-time warnings of hazards;
  • improving the visibility of the pilot areas of the project both through social media and through the dissemination of the project and its results to the scientific community and society.

The core of the XENIOS system is a platform of web applications for predicting and managing risks (fires, floods), which interact with each other, providing information / forecasts to site administrators, whereas visitors are informed through a mobile application, which also interacts with the platform.
More specifically, the services provided through the XENIOS system are the following:

  • Natural hazard forecasting
  • Natural hazard alert reporter
  • Site management featuring a call center system
  • Visitors’ attraction guide

In addition, the XENIOS system has a modular structure that allows it to easily introduce forecasts of other hazards (lightning, tornadoes, avalanches, etc.), simply by developing suitable modules.
See more about the results here.