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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
A new app is being tested at the Science in the City festival in Toulouse which will enable cities to promote their cultural heritage in a novel and engaging way.
If you are in Toulouse this week for the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), you might have seen them around the city's main square Place du Capitole: a curious looking group of researchers, tourists and students with blue caps and smartphones, their eyes fixed on the next cultural point of interest to be found in the city.
They are taking part in an ESOF Science in the City activity set up by the JRC to test a newly developed app for promoting cultural heritage in Europe. The "Toulouse 'Cultural gems' Treasure Hunt" – named after the Cultural gems app – takes participants on a walking tour to discover the city's scientific and cultural treasures.
While exploring the city's sights with the lead of students from the Grand Sud Tourism School, the participants contribute to a European research project by testing the first prototype of the Cultural gems app and by providing feedback to the JRC researchers.
"Cultural gems aims to increase people's interest in culture and at attract quality tourism through a gamified city exploration experience. In this way, the app fits into the growing 'gamification' trend in tourism promotion, aimed at improving engagement with a city's cultural and creative lifeblood", said JRC researcher Francesco Panella who is leading the activity in Toulouse.
After the pilot testing in Toulouse, the research team will integrate feedback from the participants into the development process of the app. The final version will be launched by the end of 2018. It will be freely available for all European cities.
The app provides European cities with a novel opportunity to promote their cultural and creative spaces, and citizens with a way to experience a city's culture in engaging ways combining game thinking and user-friendly design.
Cultural gems is free and open-source, and intended to complement the statistical picture of European cultural and creative cities provided by the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor (CCCM) – a new benchmarking tool which helps local decision makers learn from each other and better exploit their cultural and creative resources for city development.
The Toulouse Cultural gems Treasure Hunt was organised by the JRC in collaboration with the "Science in the City" Festival of ESOF 2018, Agence d'Attractivité de Toulouse Métropole, Grand Sud Tourism School, Fondation EDF, Musée Saint-Raymond and Université Toulouse 1 Capitole.