Geotrek was designed in 2012 by 3 national parks to manage trails and promote hiking and mountain heritage. From the outset, this open-licensed digital tool was designed to be shared, so that other organizations could make it their own. A real success when you consider that today over 150 regional natural parks, communities of municipalities, regions, tourist offices, national parks... have now deployed Geotrek on their own territory!
Building on this success, the Ecrins National Park IT team submitted the Geotrek project for the OSOR Awards 2023 last September. These awards, presented by the European Commission's Open Source Observatory (OSOR), recognize and promote the best open source solutions and initiatives created by or for public administrations in Europe. Of the 101 entries received from across Europe, six have been nominated as finalists for the Jury's Prize... including Geotrek! The winner will be announced on the occasion of OSOR's 15th anniversary on November 21 in Brussels.
The Geotrek project was also one of the 22 nominees for the People's Choice Award, voting for which closed on October 30 on the OSOR website. This prize was won by BlueHats, the community of public-sector contributors to open source software, which includes the Ecrins national park and the Geotrek project. The Geotrek project took second place in these People's Choice Awards.
The Geotrek project application is available on the OSOR website and also below:
In 2005, we started reorganising the Ecrins National Park information system and building it based on open source tools and softwares.
After a few years, we wanted to contribute to open source solutions to give back to the communities and organisations that had offered us so much.
We were also disappointed by the fact that most public administrations were building their small databases and software, without sharing their work and financial resources, doing very similar tools on their sides.
So we started a global and ambitious strategy and initiative to build our own database and software projects in a generic and open source way, with the hope that others could benefit and contribute to it, rather than doing smaller projects on their side.
In 2011, we started creating a concept for a global database and web application to manage and promote hiking in the Ecrins National Park.
We built the project with the Mercantour National Park to group our financial resources and focus on our common points to build a generic solution.
We later learned that when it works for 2, it works for 10, it works for 100…
We made a public tender imposing the use of open source solutions and selected the French company Makina Corpus, specialising in geographical open source development.
In 2013, we released the first version of Geotrek under a BSD licence.
We started presenting it to several administration networks, conferences, and meetings to promote the software but also the open source approach.
10 years later, Geotrek is used by more than 150 public organisations (mainly in France, but also in a few other countries in Europe and America).
As the number of organisations using Geotrek has been growing very fast, we built a community with communication tools, annual meetings, and working and piloting groups.
Today all these organisations have benefited from the solution and investment we made, without having to pay it again, and they can concentrate their effort and resources to deploy it and improve it with maintenance, bug fixes, and new features that also benefit the whole community.
It is now used by national parks, but also natural regional parks, regions, municipalities, tourism and trekking committees, associations, and companies.
Geotrek is a global solution to manage and promote treks, outdoors, heritages, and touristic offers of a territory.
It is composed of:
Here are a few examples of Geotrek-rando web portals of some organisations:
More than sharing software and financial resources, we have also built a global vision and approach, ideas, and experiences. Several of the organisations that are now using Geotrek were not used or confident with open source, and are now ambassadors of Geotrek, its community, and open source approach.
Our experience, project, and approach have also been shared in several articles, meetings, and conferences to promote it and help other projects and public administrations to build open source projects and communities to pool their resources.
An example can be found here.
Building a common, stronger, and bigger solution together also allowed us to build national standards and partnerships with public or private platforms (French and European ones) to share data and increase the diffusion of our content and messages about nature and eco-tourism. While keeping total control of our tools and data, as European public administrations!