App to make it easy to dob in dodgy mobility parkers

Countdown Dunedin South manager Grant McEwan tests the new Access Aware app on a freshly-painted...
Countdown Dunedin South manager Grant McEwan tests the new Access Aware app on a freshly-painted mobility park outside the supermarket. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A Dunedin Countdown manager knows the feeling when shoppers without permits take mobility parks from people like his daughter who actually need them.

Now his and other Dunedin stores are trialling technology so others can easily report misuse of the spaces.

From Monday, Countdown's Dunedin Central, Dunedin South, Mailer St and Andersons Bay supermarkets will trial the Access Aware app which allows customers to take photos of vehicles misusing mobility parks, which will be sent to staff inside.

Staff will then take action, generally in the form of asking over the store intercom for the person to move their vehicle.

Countdown Dunedin South manager Grant McEwan said it was ''not unheard of'' for shoppers to take mobility parks without permits.

Some ''pleaded ignorance'', so the stores also painted the parks blue to make them more visible.

Another excuse was shoppers saying they were only ''going to be two minutes''.

''You don't have a disability for two minutes; usually you have it all the time, and you need that park at the time.''

Mr McEwan's 10-year-old daughter had special needs.

''So when I see people in the wrong car park I understand how frustrating it is.

''It's just annoying that people feel OK to park there when clearly it's not. It's clearly inconsiderate.''

He imagined the app would initially be used by mobility park permit holders who were more aware of the issue.

These could be people who might not feel comfortable talking to staff about the problem, or did not have time to go inside to complain.

Countdown corporate affairs, safety and sustainability general manager Kiri Hannifin said the company would see how the Dunedin test went before extending the trial to other stores.

Sometimes people took the parks by accident, but sometimes they were being ''a bit mischievous'', she said.

David Matthews, who is chief executive of CCS Disability Action which created the app in partnership with developer SaferMe, said feedback from 150,000 mobility parking permit holders indicated supermarkets and other retailers were some of the most misused mobility car parks in the country, causing ''immense frustration and stopping people going about their daily lives''.

''The reality is that there are only a small number of designated mobility car parks available at any one time, and they have been designed to be close to the entrance for a reason.''

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

Comments

What a great Idea shame itt has taken so long to come in . As a wheelchair user there some days we have to wait for someone without a label . Shame pac n sav don't do the same some days they have vans from rest homes and those companies that pick people up and get there food then drop them off again . None of them have labels yet the drivers just sit and wait in a disable park surly they could just park one row over . I will be going straight to countdown from now on thanks guys

Great idea. As one who has had to transport an immobile person, I think this it's a great idea. Not sure Countdown need pregnant mothers parks though South Dn- we are not ill and can walk! Better to use this space for mobility park permit holders too.