The New Zealand Tourism industry has been growing at unprecedented rates with a compounded annual growth rate of over 11% since 2013 (New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023) - this not only makes Tourism one of the fastest growing industries in New Zealand, this growth has catalysed the Tourism industry to be the second biggest driver of New Zealand economy. (New Zealand Economic Overview)

However, despite the increased investments towards tourism infrastructure, the actual growth of the industry has consistently exceeded forecasts for the last 4 consecutive years. (State of the Tourism Industry 2016) Growth is a positive word, but only when that growth can be managed. However the New Zealand tourism industry is outgrowing our ability to handle it which poses 3 key challenges for our country.

Firstly, environmental damage has increased exponentially including wildlife conservation, landfill waste, and pollution from carbon emission. Key findings from our datasets include:

  1. 42% increase in greenhouse gas emission since 1990 (Environment Aotearoa 2015)
  2. 71.8% of our native fish are classified as being at risk or threatened with extinction (Conservation status of native freshwater fish and invertebrates)
  3. 49% of monitored river sites have enough nitrogen to trigger nuisance periphyton growth (Environment Aotearoa 2015)
  4. and other similar findings that support the negative trends in the New Zealand environment (Our Marine Environment 2016)

Secondly, overpopulation and limited infrastructure poses huge health & safety risks. Due to recent surges in the demand for New Zealand tourism, there are more tourists at these attractions than the disaster management plans can handle. Not only that, overseas travellers are often unaware of the risk of natural disasters and how to respond to these emergency situations.

The two challenges outlined above directly lead to the third and final challenge of economic sustainability. The biggest driver behind the growth in NZ tourism has been the image of 100% Pure. However, if the current level of environmental damage continues and the issue of overcrowding is not addressed, the travel experience in New Zealand will no longer remain a pleasant experience, and the attractiveness of the New Zealand experience will inevitably decline.

In light of the challenges outlined above, the Niesh team is proud to introduce Mai - your customised AI travel companion. 

Mai is a travel companion powered by artificial intelligence and augmented reality that empowers tourists to make environmentally friendly and safe decisions. These decisions are enabled through Mai's 4 core features.

The first feature of Mai is travel planning. Mai helps tourists design their travel plans all the way from their flights into New Zealand, to the activities, accommodation and transport during their journey. By utilising HERE Api, Mai is able to provide a detailed travel itinerary including navigation features of where to go, how to get there, and when specific actions need to be taken. The travel planning feature brings three benefits.

  1. The first benefit is customer acquisition. By enabling the whole planning process to be started and completed in one centralised platform, Mai provides an immediate incentive for international travellers to join the platform.
  2. The second benefit is data collection. By collecting every detail of the traveller's journey, Mai is able to analyse where each of the travellers will be at any point in time. 
  3. The third benefit is traffic control. The artificial intelligence behind Mai will analyse the travel plans of all users on the platform and optimise travel routes and travel times to minimise congestion on the road.

The second feature of Mai is environmental protection. By integrating datasets from the department of conservation and ministry for the environment, Mai is able to provide tourists with environmental regulations surrounding the location and activity. For example, when a tourist is about to embark on the Tongariro Crossing, Mai will warn the tourist of the Litter Free Zone regulation, and provide actionable advice surrounding the nearest rubbish bins to dispose of their waste before entering the track. Another example is when a tourist is scheduled to go fresh water fishing in a lake, Mai is able to provide them with information surrounding the minimum length of fish, the maximum daily bag limit, and other cautionary steps to be aware of. There is a plethora of data available on environmental regulations, and the artificial intelligence behind Mai will allow the platform to assess all available government data and provide the most recent and relevant advice at any point in time. 

The third feature of Mai is disaster management. We have decided to focus on two aspects of disaster management - prevention and response.  By integrating datasets from the Civil Defence, Mai is able to warn tourists when they enter high risk zones and also provide appropriate response actions that comply to the emergency management guidelines. For example, when a tourist is entering a volcanic zone, Mai will alert them immediately by highlighting the danger zone on the integrated map. Mai will also provide them with a plan of action to take in case of an eruption, aimed at pre-emptively educating the tourists on safety protocols. In the case that a natural disaster does occur, Mai will utilise the integrated emergency management dataset to provide tourists with a specific action plan. In the case of a Tsunami warning, Mai will alert the tourist of the warning immediately after the warning is announced. Mai will also locate the closest safe-zone and navigate the tourist via the safest route. Lastly, Mai will notify the Civil defence team of how many tourists are situated in each safe zone to assist in appropriate rescue planning.

The fourth feature of Mai is spontaneous recommendations. Through the integration with the NZ heritage dataset, Mai will be able to spontaneously recommend nearby landmarks based on proximity and alignment with the tourist's interests. The spontaneous recommendations will achieve two outcomes.

  1. Firstly, it will raise the awareness of less-traveled landmarks to international tourists, to stimulate further interest in these untapped attractions. This will effectively increase the number of popular tourist locations enabling a more effective distribution of the tourist population. 
  2. Secondly, Mai can be utilised as an education tool for educating the tourists of the history behind each monument. The integration with NZ heritage datasets means that Mai will be able to pull through the most recent and relatable information surrounding each landmark. The educational information will then be provided through a means of Augmented Reality, so that tourists can learn about NZ history whilst still being immersed in the moment.

Mai is the ultimate travel solution for both tourists and for New Zealand. Environmental protection and quality traveller experience are the two key drivers of the sustainability behind NZ's tourism industry, and now is the time to take action for a more sustainable New Zealand. 

Mai. 100% Pure. 100% Safe. 100% New Zealand.

Nominated Award Categories and how Mai satisfies these categories.

  1. Geo-spatial (location) hack

    Mai, our tourism interface, uses geo-spacial data to a multitude of things such as: navigation, dynamic journey planning, proximal AR interactions, geo-spatial emergency warnings, education of regional wildlife regulations, points of interests such as bins/campsites/toilets and much more.
  2. Innovative hack using Stats NZ data

    Using Stats NZ data, we’ve analysed and identified negative trends pertaining to NZ’s freshwater environments which are declining as a result to exessive pollution. We’ve also used Stats NZ data to analyse growth and other trends pertaining to international visitors especially within tourism.
  3. Open Government

    Mai, our tourism interface, utilises HERE’s locational data to prompt educational AR popups when in close proximity to points of interest (POIs). POIs include culturally significant landmarks and these  POIs can be interacted with in reality via augmented reality.
  4. Re:Invention (international)

    The NZ government currently invests heavily in our tourism market and has implemented as well as planned the development of various tourist attractions, infrastructure and amenities. Mai, our tourism interface, utilises the pre-existing infrastructure and by redistributing traffic whilst educating international visitors with their own language, Mai ensures NZ’s tourism industry is operating at maximum efficiency.
  5. Search & Rescue comms

    Mai, our tourism interface, ensures that international travellers are also kept safe during disaster situations. The integrated HERE location data gives Mai the power to alert tourists of pending disasters, routes to the nearest safe zone and educates them on the best procedure to maximize survival.
  6. Sustainable New Zealand

    Mai, our tourism interface, redistributes international tourist traffic to utilise NZ’s pre-existing tourism infrastructure to maximum potential. Mai minimises “bottlenecks” due to popular tourist destinations which in turn relieves traffic congestion. Mai’s AI interface also encourages cleaner environments (pollution education), education of local regulations and the do’s and don’t’s to keep NZ 100% pure.
  7. The future tech experience

    Tourism is one of NZ’s largest industries and is growing rapidly, however this rapid growth is becoming exceedingly unsustainable and the NZ government is attempting to mitigate the side effects such as pollution, congestion and the stress on tourism infrastructure due to overcapacity. Mai, our AI tourism interface, utilises AI and AR to redistribute the stressors of our tourism infrastructure whilst educating the tourists on the best way to keep NZ 100% pure.
  8. Tourism Hack

    NZ’s government experiences multitudes of challenges which stem from the rapid growth of our tourism industry. Mai, our AI tourism interface, utilises HERE’s location capabilities to redistribute tourists across NZ’s wide range of tourism infrastructure thus eliminating bottlenecks and preventing overcrowding, road congestion and pollution. Mai also uses the location data to educate tourists on POI’s (rubbish bins, campsites, etc), local wildlife regulations (wildlife sanctuaries) and tourist attractions (displays educational content via AR when in proximity to the attractions). Finally, Mai alerts tourists of disasters in their location and the best procedure to remain unharmed.
  9. Tourism Statistics

    Tourism is a significant contributor to NZ’s GDP, therefore, optimizations/ improvements to the tourism industry need to be implemented to support and encourage further growth. Mai, our tourism interface, provides statistics and geographical data pertaining to tourist traffic thus allowing for the reallocation of resources to address tourism infrastructure that is over/under utilised.
  10. Who teaches who? Artificial intelligence? (international)

    Mai, our AI tourism interface, utilises AI, machine learning and AR to dynamically educate tourists based on their current geographical location (via HERE API’s). Mai educates the tourists just as a tour guide would but with much more flexibility. Mai’s machine learning algorithm understands how you’d learn best and educates you on areas of interest with AR integration. Just by pointing your phone at a landmark, Mai will teach you anything you wish to know about it.
Team name
State, Territory or Country
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Datasets used
Dataset Name
MBIE - New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023
Dataset Name
State of the Tourism Industry 2016
Dataset Name
New Zealand Economic Overview
Dataset Name
Conservation status of native freshwater fish and invertebrates
Dataset Name
Our Marine Environment 2016
Dataset Name
International Visitor Survey
Dataset Name
Ministry of Transport - Transport Outlook Overview 2016
Dataset Name
New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero
Dataset Name
Environment New Zealand 2007
Dataset Name
2016-2017 Sports Fishing Regulations
Dataset Name
Department of Conservation - Know Before You Go
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Department of Conservation - APIs
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Department of Conservation - Safety in the Outdoors
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Department of Conservation - Conservation Education
Dataset Name
Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002
Dataset Name
Civil Defence Emergency Management Guidelines
Dataset Name
National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan Order 2015
Source code and Material file
Mai.zip13.62 MB
Project image
Video URL (YouTube/Vimeo)