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OUTDOORS COUNTERS - WALKERS - CYCLISTS - CARS

This page shows outdoor counter examples.  The Insights page characterizes good counter locations as places where the ‘right people to count are behaving predictably’, and ideally also where ‘one instance of a behaviour pattern equals one visitor’.  If the visitors enter and exit via the same route then they will be double-counted so a calibration factor of 0.5 is applied to the recorded data at the time it is downloaded into a PC so the stored will then repesent the visitor footfall rather than the usages of a track.  The banner photo above shows a body-heat sensor in a box on a footbridge into a dedicated mountain-bike skills training area.

Countryside footpaths

An ideal visitor counting situation is where people are in the middle of an inescapable section of track between two access points.  Coast paths, as in the photo above, tend to be like this. A narrow eroded strip often develops between grass verges which suits a buried pressure slab sensor.  All the better if the path is edged by shrubs to keep people walking on a ‘desire line’ and providing a way to conceal a Pelicase in prickly undergrowth. Exploit path furniture like boxed steps or kissing gates that make people walk in single file even if only for a short distance when using a slab sensor. Narrow swing gates (hunting gates) can be problematic as counters since the first person takes a long time to open it and pass compared to others.

Metal fencing at lakes,

harbours, promenades

Canal or lake paths are similar to coast paths but tend to be much wider which might not suit one slab sensor. Rivers also might flood, perhaps severely depending on the level of surrounding ground.  A body-heat sensor with logger can be put into a elevated box on various styles of metal or wooden fencing, or forestry road barriers, or on stone or brick walls, or inside a locked pillar in the path verge.  This keeps the counter equipment above expected floodwater levels. Sometimes path furniture, fence posts and stone walls provide a way to hide a body-heat sensor, but beware tall swaying weeds which can block its view in high summer or add false counts when strong sun and wind creates fast-moving shadows.  So look for naturally weed-free locations.

Nature reserves, uplands

Nature reserves have defined access points, usually off a car park, but then internally they are simply wide open spaces where people can wander around at will.  On RSPB reserves that is exactly what typical visitors will do when searching for the different birds so consider counting cars with a loop, as seen in the photo above, or with a magnetometer.  Putting a car sensor on a dead-end access road leading to the main car park is equally effective. There can be many paths up or down hills or mountains and circular walk possibilities.  Where car parking is informal or in a long layby, rather than focus on cars you can instead put a pedestrian counter near the main walk starting point.  This will provide an ‘activity index’ rather than true footfall since you cannot know how many people would return by the same way. 

Bicycle trails

Forestry sport mountain bike trails with gravel surfaced tracks 1-2m wide suit buried slab pressure sensors, as in the footpath photo top left. Slab sensors can be configured for multi-purpose trails to detect the ‘bump-bump’ sound from the two wheels of bikes passing over and to ignore different kind of ground sounds made by walkers. Tarmac or concrete surfaces are best fitted with inductive loop sensors to detect bikes, as above with a pillar, but loops involve a lot of work to install.  Magnetometers are much easier to install at barriers where cyclists ride on narrow line and on unsealed tracks.

Streets in towns

It is usually impractical to put a people counter on every pavement in a town, nor can one know how many times each visitor walked along the same street from shop to shop.  So street footfall is also an ‘activity index’ when it comes to tracking in town centres. Nevertheless, the information gained can be insightful in terms of profiling certain streets by time of day or day of week, or seasonally, or annual for shopper trends.  Projects located in regeneration areas will compare footfall with investment, or used to compare several different towns’ footfall across a whole county.

Parks and gardens

Municipal park refurbishment has become more common thanks to Lottery funding.  The typical project follows the visitor numbers before, during and after the park works, hoping to evidence increased usage. As in town streets, the main method is body-heat sensors in boxes on lamp posts or street signs fencing.  Locked metal pillars of the type used to house street lighting controls are also useful. National Trust properties are low risk for vandalism so these also suit people counters in metal boxes on fixed objects like fences and small gates.
VISITOR COUNTERS FOR OUTDOORS AND INDOORS  Design - Supply Installation - Services Outdoors  -  Indoors Planning  -  Supply Installation -  Reports
VISITOR COUNTERS