Trailgazers: A Scoping Study of Footfall Sensors to Aid Tourist Trail Management in Ireland and Other Atlantic Areas of Europe

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Mar 13;21(6):2038. doi: 10.3390/s21062038.


This paper examines the current state of the art of commercially available outdoor footfall sensor technologies and defines individually tailored solutions for the walking trails involved in an ongoing research project. Effective implementation of footfall sensors can facilitate quantitative analysis of user patterns, inform maintenance schedules and assist in achieving management objectives, such as identifying future user trends like cyclo-tourism. This paper is informed by primary research conducted for the EU funded project TrailGazersBid (hereafter referred to as TrailGazers), led by Donegal County Council, and has Sligo County Council and Causeway Coast and Glens Council (NI) among the 10 project partners. The project involves three trails in Ireland and five other trails from Europe for comparison. It incorporates the footfall capture and management experiences of trail management within the EU Atlantic area and desk-based research on current footfall technologies and data capture strategies. We have examined 6 individual types of sensor and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. We provide key learnings and insights that can help to inform trail managers on sensor options, along with a decision-making tool based on the key factors of the power source and mounting method. The research findings can also be applied to other outdoor footfall monitoring scenarios.

Keywords: Atlantic Area; footfall sensors; outdoor trails; people counting; tourism management.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Europe
  • Ireland
  • Tourism*
  • Walking*