Best practice for counting walkers and bikers on outdoor trails

How to count people walking and biking along tourist trails in Ireland and elsewhere

In a recently published paper, Irish researchers from the Trailgazers project discussed outdoor footfall sensor technologies along walking trails in Ireland and other Atlantic areas of Europe. Here are some of their findings.

  1. Outdoor people and crowd counting sensor technologies continue to innovate, particularly around computer vision (CV) based systems.
  2. During image processing on the device ‘in the field’; the video stream or images are not relayed via a wide area network (WAN) for processing like other approaches. This allows effective protection of anonymity, adhering to GDPR restrictions while allowing the powerful analytics and accuracy that CV can provide.
  3. Problems with the various other test systems included:  Reverberations of heavy machinery affecting the readings of acoustic/pressure sensors; Sensors cannot differentiate between people, cars, bus and bicycles; Data requires manual collection, physical site visits; No feedback on fault conditions.
  4. Data will be used to monitor visitor behaviour, which routes are most commonly used and provide insights on how to enhance the visitor experience such as: maintaining vegetation, providing more safety measures, and justifying the introduction of outdoor eating facilities.

The authors comment “Trail Related Tourism is a significant factor in regional development considerations, given the potential social and economic benefits generated for residents and communities. Destination management…plans necessitate a strategic focus to manage trails, and allocate resources, ensure sustainability, protect environments and leverage economic development opportunities. The use of smart sensors to measure footfall on trails can support these activities. Additionally, footfall data and the intelligent forecasting or prediction of tourist numbers can be linked to future economic development around trailheads, and allow sustainable and environmentally appropriate trail-related tourism to take place, particularly, given the acceleration of trail construction in Ireland and the Atlantic Area of Europe in recent years.”

The Retail Sensing Solution

Retail Sensing have installed their computer vision counting systems in remote National Parks. Overhead cameras are connected to counting units which detect and count people, bicycles and vehicles. Every five minutes the system sends reports over long range radio waves (LoRaWAN). Bandwidth use is minimised as the information is processed locally. This also complies with GDPR requirements.

Park authorities view the count information on their browsers or smart phones. Our dashboard shows combined counts from all sites and from individual places. Different locations can be compared over time and with each other. Trends are predicted.

LoRaWan wirelessly connects our counters to the Internet-of-Things. As it is long range, in conjunction with solar power we can install counting systems in very remote areas.

All data is stored in the cloud, and is fully accessible at all times to the park authorities to do with as they wish. It can be downloaded and integrated with existing databases, including in MySql format: automatic data access.

During set up, the video stream can be viewed remotely to confirm the accuracy of the counts. If anything goes wrong, the problem can be seen and rectified immediately.

As our systems are so reliable, we provide lifetime technical support.

Further Reading

Madden K et al. Trailgazers: A Scoping Study of Footfall Sensors to Aid Tourist Trail Management in Ireland and Other Atlantic Areas of Europe. Sensors. 2021; 21(6):2038.

Counting cars in remote National Parks

Jill Studholme

Writing about people counting since 2002.

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