The last few days have seen scenes of crowded beaches hit the news with allegations that some coastal communities are welcoming too many visitors. It’s difficult to tell genuine problems from situations which may be OK with much depending on the lens used and field of view in press photography.
Undeniably there is a need to measure numbers, specifically the density of people using spaces. By the time a beach gets crowded it’s really too late, but data is needed to enable evidence based planning and decision making.
This takes us back to a project last summer looking at Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast. This was by a long way the most difficult survey we’ve ever done, requiring three trips and hundreds of hours of work both on site and back at base.
As part of the project we mapped movement over the Causeway and the density of occupation of predefined zones. This is exactly the dataset that coastal destinations across the UK need this summer.
To my knowledge we are the only people ever to have delivered anything like this, anywhere. It nearly broke us but we learned a lot, and those skills are available this summer for coastal communities that need them.