Electronic board to act as eyes, ears of desert travellers

January 29th, 2009 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 29 (IANS) The popularity of ‘four wheel drive’ travel across desert stretches has necessitated the need for fast, reliable and latest information about road conditions, things to see and do.Accordingly an electronic bulletin board, iVisit, capitalising on the rapid spread of Internet access across the desert, is being developed by Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (DKCRC) for the purpose.

“It started with the obvious concerns about the safety of 4WD tourists in the Outback, but when we investigated further we found a whole range of reasons why people want to get location-specific information as they travel along,” explained Roy Jones, from DKCRC and Curtin University of Technology.

“These include negatives - like the road is washed out, there’s a tree down across it, there’s a big bush fire ahead. And they include positives like now’s the time to view the desert wildflowers in bloom or observe rare birds, attend the local rodeo, picnic races or witness an Aboriginal ceremony.”

It can also provide up-to-date advice on entry permits onto private or Aboriginal land, advice on desert behaviour such as collecting firewood, camping, hunting, rubbish disposal, fire bans and ‘outback etiquette’ or safety measures.

Importantly, the system will be two-way, meaning visitors can log their experiences into it for the benefit of others and chat on virtual bulletin boards.

iVisit will also enable emergency services to keep track of individual 4WDs and for drivers to post a travel plan, so that failure to arrive at the next destination would trigger an alert. Internet cells along the route can automatically record the entry and exit of a vehicle if its computer switched on, said a DKCRC release.

A paper on the project will be presented at the Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education conference scheduled in February.

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