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Tests to find out if smartphone technology can help protect Norfolk’s rural footpaths

PUBLISHED: 06:30 16 August 2012

Ramblers out and about enjoying the footpaths and walks in Norfolk.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Ramblers out and about enjoying the footpaths and walks in Norfolk. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

Tests investigating if smartphone technology can help prevent Norfolk’s footpaths from falling into disrepair will take place within weeks.

Up to 60,000 euros (about £47,000) has been made available to Norfolk County Council, plus local authorities in Holland and Denmark, to trial the use of mobile phones to monitor the environment.

The county council has created a mobile phone application that they hope allows walkers and ramblers who spot a problem to record its exact location using GPS technology and attach photographs.

Officials believe this will make it easier to track issues when compared to the current system of people sending across details and trying to describe the location.

Volunteers are being sought to test the app during the weeks of September 10 and 17, then repeat the process during November.

The council says helpers do not have to be “particularly knowledgeable” about footpath issues or own a smartphone.

In North Jutland, Denmark, the aim is to provide anglers with information about ideal fishing locations, while the province of Zeeland, in The Netherlands, wants to guide people to, and monitor, heritage sites.

If the tests are successful, the ideas could be used across the countries based around the North Sea involved in the European Union-backed Coast Alive project.

John Jones, project manager and the council’s environment development manager, said: “In Norfolk, we are interested in working with ramblers and the Campaign to Protect Rural England as they regularly walk the network and they report issues and help in all sorts of ways to keep an eye on the network.

“We think we can improve on that using smartphone technology.”

For more information, call 01603 228923.

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