New technology helps you know when the courts are open at Raleigh parks

RALEIGH, N.C. — As the weather warms up, more and more people head outside.  Playgrounds, tennis courts, and basketball courts are popular spots.

But how does someone know if there will be room to play once they arrive? 

There’s some new technology debuting at some Raleigh parks, to make people’s time outside more efficient.

“It will allow you to see if there’s actually activity taking place at a tennis court or basketball court, before you make your plans to head out,” explained Jeff Dawson, the Technology Supervisor for Raleigh Parks and Recreation.

It’s a way to save people time and energy.

“So that you don’t go out to a basketball court, thinking you’ll be able to play basketball, and then find out when you get there that the courts are in use,” he added.

Dawson told CBS17 that a local man approached city leaders with an idea to fix it, after he constantly arrived to full basketball courts at parks. 

“We have a number of sensors deployed in the parks and playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts,” he said.

The sensors are part of the Smart City Initiative to take Raleigh into the future.

“It either detects the motion of a person passing by or playing on the tennis court, that sort of thing, or it’s going to detect the vibration of a basketball hitting the hoop,” said Dawson. “We use an algorithm to detect the number of events that happen during a certain time period, and we deem that as an activity.”

City officials had to design, and 3D print, the container surrounding the sensors, to make it weather-proof and still usable. 

The information from the sensors then gets transferred to the city’s new website.

People can click through to check out popular activity times and real-time availability.

It helps families and city leaders.

“We’ll be able to gauge if we have peak times of activity during the day to look and plan maintenance around those times. [We can also check] things in high demand and [check] if we need to look at opportunities for more folks to participate in other areas,” said Dawson.

Right now, the technology is only at Eastgate Park, Lions Park, and Powell Drive Park.

Dawson hopes that after the six-month trial period, the project will expand.

“It will improve efficiency and access to our amenities,” he said. 

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