Nav: Home

Report calls for national parks to get smart

February 11, 2018

Real-time information from environmental monitors and sensors could soon inform rangers of the conditions of footpaths and monitor the effects of climate change. Bins could send alerts when they are full to reduce unnecessary emissions due to bin collections. Your phone could sense when you tire during a walk, notifying you of the nearest pub for a rest stop. It could even send you the menu, or make a reservation on your behalf.

These are all examples of smart technologies in use across the world that are quickly changing the face of cities and open spaces, shaping new types of experiences. Now, experts suggest innovation and the 'Internet of Things' could be the key to better protecting the world's National Park landscape while reducing costs and enhancing visitors' experience.

Professor Edward Truch, a Director of the Connected Communities Research Lab at Lancaster University Management School, is the lead author of the Smart Parks: Bringing smart technologies to National Parks report, commissioned by the Lake District National Park Authority. He said: "National Parks are under increasing pressure to deliver more for less and with population booms, visitor numbers are increasing - putting greater strain on the natural environment. This report sets out business models and revenue streams for National Parks right across the world to consider, that can help address the gaps in budgets caused by cuts in public sector spending. The Smart Park model demonstrates how a high degree of connectivity and exchange of information can benefit all - from nature conservationists, tourists, businesses and communities, through to park authorities and emergency services. A Smart Park could open up opportunities for new types of visitor attractions, which protect rather than spoil some of the world's most treasured landscapes.

"Visitors are already making use of intelligent connected devices through apps like Google, Ordinance Survey and Booking.com for things like navigation and accommodation bookings. Some areas of the world are already drastically cutting traffic pollution by introducing 'smart' car parking systems, for example, directing individual motorists to available car parking spaces.

"Research suggests there will be exponential growth in the number of worldwide devices connected to the internet over coming years, growing from 4.9bn in 2015 to around 25bn in 2025. National Parks need to act now and seriously consider these innovative technologies to better protect the environment and keep pace with future visitor expectations."

The new vision of a 'Smart Park', or a national or urban park enhanced by the effective use of the Internet of Things, identifies potential solutions for the main challenge vast, rural national parks currently face - efficient and reliable internet connectivity. New and emerging networks are offered as solutions to the problem, such as cognitive radio technology which is considered to be the next frontier in wireless communications. The report suggests developing technology with built-in intelligence and agility to adapt to the environment it is operating in, can offer 'greener' more sustainable options for natural spaces - optimising transmissions to preserve power.

Lake District National Park's Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Liam McAleese, said: "This collaboration between the Lake District National Park Partnership and Lancaster University Connected Communities Research Lab creates an opportunity for us to explore innovative technology that may one day benefit our communities and enhance the experience for the millions of visitors who enjoy the Park every year. Smart Parks is a fascinating piece research and it has presented us with a broad range of options to consider for the future of the National Park."

Chris Mahon, Chief Executive of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Committee UK and Development Director of World Heritage UK said: "The report offers a very new look at how designated natural areas and other green spaces, and the people that visit them, can benefit from the latest innovations in modern technology. It's about new ways of delivering conservation as well as visitor convenience and experience enhancement. Commissioned by the same organisation responsible for the successful 2017 inscription of the UK's most recent UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 'English Lake District', this study will be of considerable interest to many people, including members of the UNESCO and IUCN networks, involved in land and people management."
-end-
The full report is available here: https://www.connected.community/smart-park

Lancaster University

Related Environment Articles:

How do fishes perceive their environment?
Fishes perceive changes in water currents caused by prey, conspecifics and predators using their lateral line.
A material inspired by a sea worm changes according to the environment
The gelatinous jaw of a sea worm, which becomes hard or flexible depending on the environment around it, has inspired researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a new material that can be applied to soft robotics.
When human illness rises, the environment suffers, too
A toxic environment is known to create health problems for people, but sick people can also create health problems for the environment.
Changes of the cell environment are associated with certain eye diseases
In case of ischemic injury to the retina, changes occur in the protein scaffold in the environment of retinal cells, the so-called extracellular matrix.
A Trump twist? Environment over economy in Michigan
Most Michigan residents would prefer policymakers prioritize the environment over economic growth, finds a new survey by Michigan State University researchers.
Tailor-made membranes for the environment
The combustion of fossil energy carriers in coal and gas power plants produces waste gases that are harmful to the environment.
Military environment
Military installations in the United States are home to a surprisingly large number of threatened and endangered species, leaving the Department of Defense (DoD) with the critical dual responsibilities of ensuring that it provides the finest military readiness training to American service members and also that it protects the species that call those facilities home.
Which cropping system is best for the environment?
Early sown winter wheat, where the straw is removed every second year and used in biorefining, is the best of six different cereal cropping systems with regard to total environmental impact.
Level of self-control linked to environment
Researchers discovered that people with neurotic personalities are more likely to restore their cognitive abilities in a frenetic, urban environment rather than in a peaceful, natural environment.
How does the environment affect obesity?
Researchers will be examining how agricultural and food processing practices may affect brown fat activity directly or indirectly.

Related Environment Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#514 Arctic Energy (Rebroadcast)
This week we're looking at how alternative energy works in the arctic. We speak to Louie Azzolini and Linda Todd from the Arctic Energy Alliance, a non-profit helping communities reduce their energy usage and transition to more affordable and sustainable forms of energy. And the lessons they're learning along the way can help those of us further south.