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Smart cities are often discussed as being the key to future urban living. The increase in capacity for more complex information can help solve human and environmental problems by saving energy and regulating traffic flow. A study has now highlighted the potential of adapting the concept of "smart" for national parks.
Historically, outdoor recreation gained its popularity because of its juxtaposition to urbanisation. Motivations included adventure, simplicity and immersion in "wilderness" – away from human progress. In many cases this is still true. We are often told that greater exposure to green space and natural environments benefits health and well-being.
Tech - Countryside - Experience - Challenge - Technology
But how can the so-called "smart" tech improve our relaxing countryside experience? The challenge lies in integrating technology into outdoor recreation while retaining these crucial elements of the experience. Here are some simple smart options for the future ramblers.
The Lake District example suggests that sensors on bins can alert the national park authorities when they are full, which reduces the problem of litter and helps conserve the landscape. Research has shown that these kinds of messages work.
Car - Parks - Information - Motorists - Car
It is also suggested that "smart" car parks will transmit information to motorists when car parks are full. This can reduce carbon emissions by reducing trips to multiple car parks. However, encouraging more travel by public transport and non-motorised modes of transport reduces carbon emissions more effectively. This alternative should be given priority.
Planners and managers of national parks have long seen the need to reduce visitor car use. Aside from decreasing carbon emissions, visual pollution from large numbers of cars in natural areas is a long-standing problem. It takes away from the "natural" and "simple" aesthetics which are so important in attracting visitors.
Need - Car - Sharing - Infrastructure - Areas
There is considerable need to encourage car sharing, especially because the infrastructure in rural areas is less resilient to large numbers of cars. Academics...
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