Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation for tourism

Multi-Spectral- and 3D-Monitoring of Vegetation by UAVs
November 6, 2017
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January 6, 2018


Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation for tourism

Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation for tourism

CapeOutdoors3D prototyped a web-based and mobile application for tourists planning outdoor activities in Nature Reserves and National Parks in South Africa. The project linked the space technologies Earth Observation and GPS Satellite Navigation with the aim to provide a 3D virtual reality planning and GPS navigation tool for tourists. In addition, Earth Observation based fuel condition maps were developed to support protected area authorities in their fire management activities.

3D virtual-reality planning tool

A total of 8.9 million tourists came to South Africa in 2015. Tourists are particularly attracted by the abundant flora and fauna, and outstanding beauty of the Cape region, where nature reserves and national parks offer numerous recreational outdoor activities. CapeOutdoors3D addresses the increasing number of tech-savvy tourists that plan their activities on mobile devices by conceptualising a 3D virtual-reality planning tool for outdoor activities. Users span two categories: the tourism industry (both operators and tourists) and the administrative protected area management, operating within South Africa’s national parks and nature reserves. ”


  • Market study on tourism sector in Southern Africa
  • 3D maps based on aerial imagery and satellite data
  • Production of fuel maps based on Sentinel-2 imagery
  • Prototype design of a web app and a smartphone app for tourists and fire managers
  • Implementation of GPS tracking based on satellite navigation

GPS navigation and live GPS tracking

The app we created, provides 3D maps based on aerial and satellite imagery and allows tourists to get a unique overview of the destination and to use it as a planning tool for their safari, but also provides exceptional GPS navigation and live GPS tracking on-site. Up-to-date, on-site information, hiking and biking trails, touristic attractions or weather information can be included as well as features to improve tourist safety and general awareness (e.g. emergency alert function and live tracking). An exclusive part of the app supports local authorities of protected areas in their maintenance, preservation and fire management efforts.

Potential of application

CapeOutdoors3D can give users access to an array of secondary services, such as GPS tracking and navigation, warning or internal communication platforms, advertising, accommodation and more. Earth observation imagery, points of interest or tracks, will be provided on- or offline (thin or rich client) in a cross-platform solution (for laptops and smartphone apps). Either way, the software uses a sophisticated client-server architecture with high-level data compression and a flexible level of detail (HD or basic rendering) of the imagery. This efficient data management allows an attractive service provision in areas with limited bandwidth. The app supports and improves the tourist’s planning, as well as administrative management tasks such as fire management.

Project partners


Funding source

European Space Agency (ESA)