High tech solutions cut freedom camping rubbish and overcrowding

Ground sensors allow freedom campers wanting to stay at Wellington's Evans Bay to find out in advance whether overnight ...
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Ground sensors allow freedom campers wanting to stay at Wellington's Evans Bay to find out in advance whether overnight parking is available.

High tech solutions are helping councils come to grips with freedom camping issues.

Ground sensors in two popular Wellington freedom camping sites are telling potential campers when they're full to prevent overcrowding.

And solar powered compacting rubbish bins that alert contractors when they need emptying are cutting the mess at camping areas and picnic spots. 

The sensors, like those used in car parks, were installed in freedom camping parking areas in Evans and Owhiro Bays in August as part of a pilot by CamperMate​, Smart Parking and the Wellington City Council.

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Adam Hutchinson, founder of freedom camping app CamperMate​, said use of the sensors had potential for other areas where overcrowding was an issue.

"The problem in Wellington was that people were committing to driving the 7 km to Owhiro Bay, then realising it was full, but staying anyway because they'd driven out there."

Information from the ground sensors allowed CamperMate​ to tell users that all the available camping spots were taken. 

Hutchinson said data tracking showed that all 72 app users who checked out Owhiro Bay and discovered it was full opted to go elsewhere.

"It's providing people with information in real time when they're making these decisions."

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He said unpaved freedom camping areas could use the technology by setting the sensors in concrete.

Since it began leasing out Big Belly litter bins fitted with solar powered compactors, Manco​ Environmental has installed more than 200 throughout the country.

Product manager Ben Calvert said compactor bins held the equivalent of 600 litres compared to the 60 litre capacity of standard parks and reserves rubbish bins.

Contractors got an email alert when bins needed emptying and councils could download an app to monitor usage.

"Some councils have had a 95 per cent increase in efficiency.

"Say they did 14 collections, now they do one due to the compaction, plus they get the data."

Calvert said there was a lot of scepticism when the bins came out 18 months ago. "People laughed and said 'you're dreaming if you think councils are going to put those in.'"

Smaller local authorities had been faster to adopt the new technology and appreciated the cost savings, he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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