Can you imagine that everyone (including every business) could write on the walls of a street? That is what DIGITAL GRAFFITI will be a proxy for. It will enable content originators to write on the walls and leave messages for others. Many will be able to write on the same walls. Users that want to read messages will do so with a filter so that only the “GRAFFITI” they are interested in are shown to them. To write and read a smart phone with simple location tags of different sorts will be used (such as QR codes or GPS markers). The idea is simple but the changes it will enable profound – perhaps very much like SMSs, email or even Facebook where simple ideas that had strong lasting impacts.

Let‘s see a use-case example: Joe Smith is visiting Barcelona. It‘s half past noon and he is hungry. He pulls his smart phone and starts the DIGITAL GRAFFITI service. He selects a default profile called “Foreign Visitor, stays in Barcelona for one weekend for the first time, likes ethnic food, enjoys culture (especially music)”. He aims his phone at a QR code that has the label “tourist” and after he hits enter he gets three balloon messages on his screen: restaurants within a half a mile, open museums and local webs within 300 feet. He decides to click local webs and gets a list of all the webs of the stores and companies nearby. He switches to camera mode and as he aims his camera while walking straight he sees links to all the webs nearby that he can click on – among them one for the wax museum that he browses. After a while, he switches to restaurant mode and gets a list of 10 ethnic categories that are open and 5 price ranges. He clicks on the option that best suits him and his search is narrowed down to 4 restaurants – one of them in fact calls him right away. A nice voice tells him: “do you have any questions?” The conversation continues. After short calls with two restaurants and a few checks on the specific recommendations available on-line, he picks his choice and the phone gives him directions on how to get there.

From a technical point of view, the application, will have three major architectural components, the DIG server (offering Graffiti hosting), the 3rd party development applications (that will provide intelligence to Graffiti placements) and the mobile clients (that will provide input/output functionalities as well as location information via GPS, QR codes, etc).

We believe DIG is ideal for application in areas where there is a lot of tourism and that tourist destinations can greatly benefit from such a technology. Tourist sites like the ones chosen by the project offer several advantages: entry barriers are low because they are content dense (there is a lot of content and tech-savvy SMEs in a given spot making Graffiti easy to create and useful to select); a lot of value can be generated (because of the large number of customers and SMEs that will be using the system); applications will not be mission critical (which is essential in the first stages of a new technology when it can break); they all have good infrastructures to support data transfer (in fact they are amongst the most profitable spots for telecom operators); the town sees tourism as a key economic sector (providing public authority support); and there are no major legal hurdles to the service.

DIG will start operating on city centers by being an operational service that offers tourists all the existing digital content related to the street they are walking in. The emphasis is to offer all the available content (not just that related to an application) in the densest form possible creating the best possible laboratory to test smart applications for a target group of users. The project aims to take the Information Services of local SME actors to the next level by sharing best practices and offering a localized multi-language service in crowded city centers with the aim of generating an ecosystem that will make the service grow beyond the city center‘s frontiers. We aim to target a few application domains to jump-start the service with the idea of creating a critical mass so that third party SMEs can create additional applications.

Seventh Framework ProgrammeThe research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA-Research Executive Agency

(FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° «286927»