Like many growing regional coastal areas of Australia, the Tweed Shire has recently been facing significant challenges in coping with a major influx of visitors and more permanent residents migrating from major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Whilst this activity is a great boost for our local economy and businesses, the growing inflow of people is placing a strain on our beautiful and sensitive coastline and adjoining residential areas and business centres, with an increasing pattern of non-compliance with Tweed Council’s road and public open space rules. These illegal activities include the parking of vehicles in dangerous and unsafe locations, overnight camping and rubbish dumping.
Whilst taking compliance and enforcement action against such activities is an important Council service, our hard working and dedicated Rangers Team have been burdened in recent years by increasing incidences of verbal and physical attacks by members of the public.
Council therefore has been developing and implementing a range of strategies to provide our staff with a safer and healthier work environment.
A key strategy has been the introduction of a number of smart technology tools, most notably the commencement of operations of a new Parking Enforcement Vehicle in 2020.
Through Council’s contracted suppliers Duncan Solutions, the Vehicle is fitted with the SenSen Network’s state-of-the-art cameras and GPS mapping software. Cameras mounted on the roof provide a 360 degree view. The car detects offences in real time, including illegal parking in bus zones, school zones, clearways, no parking and no stopping zones. The licence plate and location are recorded when an offence is detected.
The introduction of the Vehicle was supported through a comprehensive communications and stakeholder consultation program with the main Business Chambers, Schools and local community groups, with a focus on raising the community awareness and transparency of the role and purpose of the Vehicle.
After almost 12 months of operation, the new Vehicle has proven to be very successful on a number of levels. From the organisation’s perspective, the Vehicle has proven to be a much more efficient and safer process compared to the old fashioned chalking of the tyre patrols, providing a more reliable and accountable record for both members of the public and Council’s contracted penalty infringement notices processing arrangement with Revenue NSW. The regular presence of the vehicle has also promoted a safer movement and turn-over of parking areas in the Shire’s main business centres and school zones.
Council has since extended the use of the Vehicle to more effectively regulate illegal overnight camping in the road reserves adjoining key locations along the Tweed Coast, which has been positively received by the adjoining local residential and business areas.
Council continues to explore the benefits of smart technology for its Rangers Service through the trial of Body Worn Cameras and Radio Systems.