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Semantic Web, ontologies and GIS for the cultural routes

Web sémantique, ontologies et SIG pour les itinéraires culturels
Annarita Orsini et Alessio Innocenti
p. 377-384

Résumés

Les itinéraires culturels sont un secteur toujours montant du côté touristique soit en Europe, soit en Italie. En 2016, en Italie, le Ministère de la Culture (MiBACT) a lancé “L’an des Chemins”, pour valoriser cette modalité de tourisme slow. Avant tout cela a permis de lister tous les itinéraires culturels d’Italie et ensuite, dans le domaine des projets de numérisation dans le tourisme, d’envisager de nouvelles technologies pour les itinéraires culturels. Deux sont les propositions avancées : en première, la réalisation d’une ontologie pour le domaine “Itinéraires culturels” dans la perspective des prochains développements du “Web sémantique” ; en deuxième l’utilisation des logiciels GIS dans la gestion et la valorisation des itinéraires culturels.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

1In 2016 in Italy, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT) decided to announce “The Year of Walking”, in order to promote cultural itineraries and “slow” tourism. That was one of the first project included in a more complex contest, which is explained in the Strategic Plan for Tourism (PST), the document that contains the new strategies of Italy’s tourism system for the next 6 years1. The PST underlines the importance of the cultural routes, that are seen as a tool for the promotion of new forms of tourism in underdeveloped territories.

2The “Year of Walking” was the occasion for the Directorate General of tourism (the office of the Ministry of culture and tourism) dedicated to tourism, to understand the present situation of the cultural paths in Italy. First of all, the DG-Tourism decided to conduct a census of all the Italian cultural routes, in order to publish all the information about them as open data in a portal, “Atlante dei cammini” (Cultural Routes Atlas)2. Then, the same office started to work on some projects about digital tourism, applied to the field of cultural routes.

3There are two main projects going on : the first one is the elaboration of an ontology for the domain “Cultural Routes”, according to the innovations introduced by the Semantic Web ; the second one is the role of the GIS software in the field of management and comprehension of the cultural routes.

Cultural routes in Italy: the results of the census

  • 3 In Italy, the relationship between “Cultural Heritage” and “Tourism” is particularly complex, becau (...)

4In order to start the census, a technical board, with representatives of MiBACT and of the Italian Regions, was established in 20163. The technical board decided to define some minimal criteria for the definition of the cultural routes, according to the resolutions of the Council of Europe (Berti, 2015 ; Council of Europe, 2010 ; Council of Europe, 2013a). The DG-Tourism was particularly interested in cultural routes with a walkable path, for instance the “Via Francigena” route, so the technical board gave importance to the level of safety of the routes, to the existence of a clear signage, of a GPS track and of a website with all the updates about the path.

5An .xls file was sent by the DG-Tourism to the twenty Italian Regions, in order to collect all the data about the cultural routes. The results are very interesting : at present, the DG-Tourism has received the data about more than one hundred cultural routes, distributed all around the country. The next step will be the creation of a dataset of the cultural routes, compatible with the standards of the Semantic Web.

Open data, Semantic Web and ontologies

6The main purpose of the DG-Tourism is to publish all the information about the cultural routes as open data. This is an ambitious aim, but it is important for two reasons: first of all, the Italian Government decided that the Public Administration must publish all their data (except the sensitive information) in an open format4; secondly, the existence of the open data is vital for the development of the World Wide Web.

  • 5 The definitions of Semantic Web, Linked data and Ontology are based on the information available on (...)

7In fact, we are living now a moment of transition from the “Web of documents” based on hyperlinks, hypertextual connections between information, to the so-called “Web of Data”, based on the raw data that are usually stored in a database (Liyang Yu, 2014). To permit the development of the “Web of Data”, or Semantic Web, there must be a huge amount of data on the web available in a standard and open format (open data), so that the Semantic Web tools could be able to use them. Another key element are the relationships between data; the collection of interrelated datasets on the Web is also known as Linked Data5.

8According to the nature of Semantic Web, it is necessary to create an ontology referred to a specific domain of interest (in our case “Cultural Routes”). An ontology defines the concepts and the relationships used to describe and represent an area of concern. W3C suggests different standard format to describe and define an ontology, like RDF and RDF Schemas, Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), Web Ontology Language (OWL), and the Rule Interchange Format (RIF). The choice between these formats depends on the complexity of the ontology required for the single application.

9Last April in Italy, the collaboration between MiBACT and the National Research Council (CNR) permitted to present one of the first ontologies in the field of cultural heritage, the Cultural Institute/Site and Cultural Event Ontology, (Cultural-On) (Lodi et al., 2017). The first great results of this project, published on the beta version of the website6, suggest that the creation of an ontology referred to the domain “Cultural Routes” could permit to reach interesting outcomes.

10In fact, one of the characteristics of the Semantic Web is the inference, a tool that allow to discover new relationships between resources. The new relationships could be explicitly added to the set of data, or be returned at query time. The most important thing is the possibility of increasing the knowledge about a specific domain, which means that we could start to understand the “cultural route” phenomenon in a different and deeper way.

11But an ontology could also permit to give value to the information that we already have about cultural routes, and help more people to find them on the internet. In conclusion, the creation of an ontology could be an innovative tool to improve the knowledge and the management of the cultural routes.

Cultural routes and GIS software

12Cultural routes are spatial objects, so it is necessary to use GIS software in order to understand the relationships between a route and the territory that it crosses (Berti et al., 2015). Moreover, this tool could be very useful also from the cultural and touristic point of view. In fact, a GIS software permits to connect different spatial data, giving an essential support to the scientific research and the touristic planning (Bahaire et al., 1999).

13For instance, in the 2017 MiBACT decided to announce “The year of little towns (Borghi)”, considering as Borghi all the historical Italian towns with less than 5.000 inhabitants. After having created a georeferenced database of the Italian Borghi, it is possible to add this dataset (for instance as a .csv file) to the GIS project of cultural routes, and discover which relationships exist between the Borghi and the cultural routes (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Borghi and Cultural Routes in the Lazio region

Figure 1: Borghi and Cultural Routes in the Lazio region

14This opportunity has been useful in two different ways. Firstly, if we have routes based on historical paths, like the “Via Francigena”, we could try to understand if there are historical and cultural connections between the route and the towns (Was the history of the town influenced by the route ? Did the decay of the route cause a moment of crisis for the town ? Etc.). Secondly, if we want to improve the tourism strategy in a specific region, we could elaborate touristic plans which include both the route and the towns, to offer a unique cultural experience to the tourist.

15Furthermore, it is possible to add other spatial data in a GIS software. For instance, adding in our GIS project a dataset of the accommodation (hotel, b&b and others), we would be able to improve our touristic strategies, and we could understand how these structures are linked with the cultural routes, if it is necessary to increase their number, etc.

16Using a GIS software could be also useful to manage the considerable number of cultural routes that exist in Italy. To give an example, there are several cultural paths related to the name of St. Francis of Assisi, and they often follow the same tracks, or have the same landmarks. A GIS software helps us to understand how many itineraries connected to St. Francis exist and where they are located. Then, we can realize a summary cartography using different scale, but we could also conduct a more detailed topological analysis : thanks to the topological tools of a GIS software, we can understand where the paths intersect each other, and which are the part of the tracks that the different routes actually share.

17This kind of information could be very useful from a practical point of view. It is necessary to know the relationships between different routes when we have to plan maintenance work on a path, or we have to realize the signage for several itineraries. Therefore, using a GIS software we could easily plan all the maintenance work referred to a specific cultural route, but we would also have all the information about others cultural paths in a definite territory.

18At present, the first inference between different spatial data has been realized on a local platform, but a future opportunity could be the creation of a WebGIS, as a dynamic and up-to-date work tool.

Conclusions and future developments

19All around Europe, the success of the Cultural Routes is continually increasing. Last year, 300.000 travelers walked the St James of Compostela Path, while in Italy the “Via Francigena” is attracting every year a large number of tourists (Dallari et al., 2017). It is important to underline how these cultural routes could be extraordinary tools for the discovery of the less-known cultural heritage, but also for the development of rural areas, in order to create new job opportunities (Mariotti 2015).

20Nowadays, modern technologies offer a wide range of tools for the planning, the management and the development of the cultural routes, but they also help us to describe the cultural itineraries as complex cultural products.

21The world of the “Web of Data” will offer new opportunities for the knowledge and the inference between data, which could lead us to new level of comprehension of the cultural routes.

22GIS software will permit to study the historical and cultural aspects of the routes, but also to understand their relationships with the territories they cross, and then to discover the less-known cultural heritage.

23In conclusion, in the next years cultural routes could really become unique tools of knowledge and development in the cultural heritage field.

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Bibliographie

BAHAIRE T., ELLIOTT-WHITE M. (1999), “The Application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Sustainable Tourism Planning : A Review”, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 7 (2), pp. 159-174.

BELTRAMO S. (2013), Cultural Routes and Networks of Knowledge: the Identity and Promotion of Cultural Heritage. The Case Study of Piedmont, Almatourism-Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 4(7), pp. 13-43.

BERTI E. (2013), Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: New Paradigms for the Territorial Project and Landscape, Almatourism-Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 4(7), pp. 1-12.

BERTI E. (2015), “The cultural context: fundamental resolutions and conventions at the European and international level”, in: Council of Europe, Cultural Routes Management: from theory to practice. Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing.

BERTI E., MARIOTTI A. (2015), “The heritage of Cultural Routes: between landscapes, traditions and identity”, in: Council of Europe, Cultural Routes Management: from theory to practice. Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing.

Council of Europe (2010), Resolution CM/Res(2010)53 establishing an Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes.

Council of Europe (2011), Impact of European cultural routes on SMEs’ innovation and competitiveness, provisional edition, Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing.

Council of Europe (2013a), Resolution CM/Res(2013)66 confirming the establishment of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes.

Council of Europe (2013b), Resolution CM/Res(2013)67 revising the rules for the award of the “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” certification.

Council of Europe (2015), Cultural Routes management: from theory to practice, Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing.

DALLARI F., MARIOTTI A. (2017), Editorial, Almatourism-Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 8(6), pp. I-V.

DI GIANGIROLAMO G. (2017), “Cultural Policies Development in Italian Regions between Heritage and Landscape”, Almatourism-Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 8(6), pp. 165-181.

LODI G., ASPRINO L., NUZZOLESE A. G., PRESUTTI V., GANGEMI A., REFORGIATO RECUPERO D., VENINATA C., ORSINI A. (2017), “Semantic Web for Cultural Heritage Valorisation”, in: HAI-JEW S. (ed.), Data Analytics in Digital Humanities, Springer International Publishing.

MAJDOUB W. (2010), “Analyzing cultural routes from a multidimensional perspective”, Almatourism-Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 1(2), pp. 29-37.

MAJDOUB W. (2015), “New tourists and new tourism strategies for Cultural Routes”, in: Council of Europe, Cultural Routes Management: from theory to practice. Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing.

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Notes

1 To read the English version of the PST visit: http://www.pst.beniculturali.it/?page_id=84.

2 http://www.turismo.beniculturali.it/en/home-cammini-ditalia/.

3 In Italy, the relationship between “Cultural Heritage” and “Tourism” is particularly complex, because the Italian Regions are able to legislate in the field of Tourism (Di Giangirolamo, 2017).

4 For more information about Italian Government’s policy about open data visit: http://www.dati.gov.it/content/linee-guida-nazionali-valorizzazione-patrimonio-informativo-pubblico-2016-0 (Accessed 29 May 2017).

5 The definitions of Semantic Web, Linked data and Ontology are based on the information available on the WWW Consortium (W3C) website (https://www.w3.org/standards/semanticweb/) (Accessed 29 May 2017).

6 http://dati.beniculturali.it/ (Accessed 29 May 2017).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: Borghi and Cultural Routes in the Lazio region
URL http://journals.openedition.org/netcom/docannexe/image/3458/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 335k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Annarita Orsini et Alessio Innocenti, « Semantic Web, ontologies and GIS for the cultural routes », Netcom, 32-3/4 | 2018, 377-384.

Référence électronique

Annarita Orsini et Alessio Innocenti, « Semantic Web, ontologies and GIS for the cultural routes », Netcom [En ligne], 32-3/4 | 2018, mis en ligne le 11 janvier 2019, consulté le 18 mars 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/netcom/3458 ; DOI : 10.4000/netcom.3458

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Auteurs

Annarita Orsini

Open Data officer at the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT). E-mail : aorsini@beniculturali.it

Alessio Innocenti

Intern at the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT), DG-Tourism in 2017. E-mail : info@itinerariapicta.it. Today, archivist at RAI.

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Netcom – Réseaux, communication et territoires est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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