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Click: A Route 66 of the future - Episode 5

Updated Tuesday, 25th June 2013

In part 5 of Click’s series, A Route 66 of the future, Gareth Mitchell explores how mapping and mining of data has enriched the lives of tourists.

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A view of planet Earth from space Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Igor Kovalchuk |

The first photograph of the earth shown in full view was taken in 1972 by astronauts onboard Apollo 17. The earth resembled a blue marble – and mankind marvelled at its beauty. Since then we have become very familiar with the contours of our planet, even more so since we are able to navigate the world via digital tools such as Google Earth, allowing us to become virtual tourists. Gareth investigates how Google Maps has evolved since 2005, and explores the myriad of apps now competing for our attention to provide satellite imagery, travel guides, street views, hotels and other recommendations.

The popularity of major cities has too often had a negative ecological impact on those tourist destinations. How can technology help cities to cope with the demand? In Venice, Click hears about the aim to switch off the diesel, oil and gasoline-powered vaporettas in favour of electro-smart boats. And from Scotland there’s news of the Future Cities initiative that might enable Glasgow to serve as a model smart city, freeing up Big Data to provide safer and more reliable transport for both tourists and citizens.

The world has never been so mapped; and with the digital tools in our pockets we can all become amateur cartographers. But are there downsides to technology that always allows us to know exactly where we are? Click asks whether the profusion of digital mapping is robbing us of the joys of getting lost.

Click can be heard on the BBC World Service on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 at 7.32pm. Full schedule and iPlayer links are on Read more about the current series.

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