Campsite full? There’s an app for that
Hi-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 the campsites are 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 parking areas at freedom camping sites in Evans and Owhiro bays in August as part of a pilot by Smart Parking, freedom camping app CamperMate and the Wellington City Council.
CamperMate founder Adam Hutchinson said 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 kilometres 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 looked at Owhiro Bay and found it was full opted to go elsewhere.
‘‘It’s providing people with information in real time when they’re making these decisions.’’
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 solarpowered 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 with the 60-litre capacity of standard bins in parks and reserves.
Contractors received 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,’’ he said.
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.
Solar-powered rubbish compactors such as this bin at Whiritoa on the Coromandel are helping overcome litter problems at freedom camping sites.
Ground sensors allow freedom campers wanting to stay at Wellington’s Evans Bay to find out in advance whether overnight parking is available.