An online map showing in real-time how busy some of Beijing's best known sites are has been designed for tourists and residents so they can plan their visits.
The map, developed by the Beijing Cyberspace Administration and the Beijing Commission of Tourism Development, monitors four popular scenic spots across the capital - the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and Olympic Forest Park.
People who want to visit the sites can see which parking lots have spaces free, and how crowded the venues are.
The map, at present available only in Chinese, has been designed by Sogou Inc, the Chinese search engine owned by Sohu.com Inc, and will be expanded to cover more sites across China. There are also plans to turn it into an app for smartphones.
"If there are traffic jams around these tourism destinations, roads on the map will turn red, and if visitors want to drive to the places, the map will provide every parking area in and near the spots and show a real-time monitor of empty parking lots at the same time," said Kong Xianglai, the designer and producer of the map from Sogou.
To make the information as clear and simple as possible, some buildings and streets around the sites have been removed from the map if they are not necessary, Kong said.
"Users will also see peaks in visitor numbers and where crowds are at these destinations on the map, so it is helpful for them to plan and select a travel time," he said.
Chen Hua, head of the network management office at the administration, said it is working with the tourism commission and Sogou, hoping to cover 50 top tourist spots across the country as soon as possible. The map will also be quickly designed as an app used for smartphones, Chen said.
"We want to provide travel suggestions for residents, avoiding the crowds and congestion. After all, a comfortable tour environment is everyone's goal," he added.
Huang Shengmin, a professor specialising in advertising at Communication University of China, said, "We can provide a platform below the map for people who are visiting or have visited scenic places to share real-time information and suggestions for those wanting to travel, because that will be more accurate and vivid."