The Municipality of Porto launches innovative application to explore the city in real time

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Filipa Brito

The Municipality of Porto created a new service, the Explore Porto, which challenges both residents and visitors to explore the city in a different manner. This is the first time that a unique platform provides real time information on transports and other highlights. This service was created to provide useful and reliable information on mobility and areas of interest in the city of Porto, thus ensuring the shift from a static planned information system to a real time information system provider.

Explore Porto is a web-based application, available at, that uses circa 1.000 signalling devices – blue beacons - scattered through the city of Porto to convey information on the site where the beacon is located, namely information on tourism or mobility. As such, any resident or visitor to the city that has a smartphone can immediately obtain more information on that site, which will enable to explore the enveloping area or establish his/her own roadmap to visit different places in the city.

This service is part of the Municipality of Porto’s policy to value the role of cities as aggregators of information and digital public services. The service stands out as one of the examples on how the city of Porto positons itself in the digital transition process, by ensuring access to innovative services, which are made available in a free an open way.

This initiative is in line with the trend of the largest European cities and with which Porto has established partnerships, namely Helsinki, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Antwerp, among other cities.

Explore Porto is developed by Porto Digital, in partnership with Helsinki. This is a municipal investment combined with several funds by European projects, in which Porto Digital is involved as participant, thus strengthening the initiative’s sustainability. This project is also co-financed by the Turismo de Portugal and supported by STCP, Metro do Porto and the Associação de Turismo do Porto. Since inception, this project sought to listen and involve the population in Porto, in a co-creation effort; indeed, it is still possible for users to state their opinions and advance suggestions via the website itself.

The Explore Porto project is meant at two target audiences: citizens, by promoting, for instance, the use of public transport, and visitors, in a perspective of exploring the city, thus promoting the utilization of public transport, and also visitors and general public, in the perspective of exploring the city, thus promoting a diversification of tourism in the city and raising awareness on more distanced places from the touristic sectors.

Features of Explore Porto

As this is an ongoing evolving project, it is possible to highlight the following features:

  • Roadmap suggestions: planning a route, obtaining real time information, on public transports;
  • Exploring interesting spots in the city: provision of details such as history, location, opening hours and updated information;
  • Identification of spots of interest nearby current location;
  • Warnings on temporary alterations as regards usual functioning of public transport routes;
  • Favourites: save routes or interesting spots;
  • Possibility to personally label spots of interest.

In the short term, it is foreseen to reinforce the interconnection of Explore Porto with the different modes of transportation in the city, to boost the ever increasing active mobility in the city. Users will be able to access more information, which will be of higher quality and more detailed regarding the availability of non-motorized means of transport (shared scooters and bicycles), train and metro timetables, among other.

This platform will be available for entrepreneurs and respective ecosystem, following the transparency and collaboration approach values. At present, the provision of an “open data” model and a model that allows the development of new features issued by the city’s innovative ecosystem is being considered.

The Explore Porto Platform was made available during lockdown and has had over 16 thousand users, a number that has been exponentially increasing as the easing of the lockdown measures enter into effect.