Within the first hour on his first day of a brand new job Rob Ellis – Cornwall Park’s new Ambassador – was providing medical assistance to an injured park visitor. Using a comprehensive First Aid Kit carried aboard the park’s brand new Segway x2 Patroller, he was able to provide help right on the spot. It was an immediate demonstration of the utility that the Segway Patroller delivers best.
Cornwall Park is perhaps Auckland city’s most valuable public recreational asset. Located right in the middle of the isthmus, with the majestic One Tree Hill rising high from its heart, this parkland is a great escape from the sprawling suburbs that surround it on every side. Sheep and cattle roam the extinct volcanic cones and craters, while the busy CBD bustles just a few kilometers away. This landscaped park features plantings of mature trees, walkways and cycleways, open spaces for play and picnics, a grand cafe surrounded by historic buildings, and is home to the Stardome. Cornwall Park is enjoyed by more than four million visitors annually, or an average of well over 10,000 people per day.
The challenge for park management was how best to provide helpful information to the public throughout the park. Experience had shown that people do not like to approach either the private security company that patrols in an SUV nor the groundsmen on quad bikes, tractors and utes.
“It is the noise of the quad bike that keeps people from asking the rider, plus they assume the person on it is too busy to help with their query” says manager Michael Ayrton.
He identified the Segway x2 as the best way to enable an Ambassador to get around the park quickly, quietly, lightly and efficiently. Environmental impact is very low: it is much lighter on the ground than any of the park’s other vehicles (in fact its imprint is lighter than the average person’s footstep when walking); it is battery powered and costs only about 25 cents to recharge each night (when most of NZ’s power comes from hyrdo generation).
“Most importantly, we had a budget to employ one Ambassador, and putting him onto a Segway x2 Patroller means he can help many more people per day. Basically, we get two or three Ambassadors for the price of one, and that has to be good for our visitors. No other vehicle could have done this for us.”
Rob really stands out on the Patroller model. It features large reflective shields, and the park has emblazoned these with AMBASSADOR as well as the park’s crest. Part of the value in having a roving Ambassador is that they are easily identified amongst the visitors. Elevated 20cm higher on the Patroller, Rob is easy to see and even easier to approach. Because the rider is standing upright like someone walking, yet is elevated 20cm higher, they are easy for the public to spot, and even easier to approach.
“People are so curious, they actually come up to me and want to talk, which is really great” says Rob. “That makes such a change from my previous job in security. The Segway x2 makes it easier to do my job, and in turn I can do a better job. I like to leave a really good impression on people, and that enhances their experience of visiting our park.”
There are more benefits of putting an Ambassador onto a Segway x2 Patroller. In addition to First Aid equipment, the Segway x2 Patroller carries free maps and information brochures for Rob to hand out to visitors, as well as free rubbish bags to encourage visitors to keep the park clean. The park is considering adding a lockable side cargo case to increase carrying capacity further, giving the potential to carry a defibrillator and a fire extinguisher.
The Ambassador will operate mainly on weekends and public holidays. At other times, staff from the Visitors Centre will use the Segway x2 to commute the 1km journey to the Administration & Services Building at ASB Showgrounds. This is a typical distance where Segway Personal Transporters really prove their worth. Valuable time is lost out of the working day by walking that far, yet driving is inconvenient and time consuming due to the convoluted route through meandering park roads and multiple intersections, as well as limited car parking at each end-point. Compare walking or driving with a person on the Segway x2 that can take a direct route along walkways and straight across parkland and be there in a couple of minutes. Staff member Nadia Vanderplancke remarked “I didn’t realise the Segway would be so easy to just get on and ride, and I had no idea it could climb such steep hills with ease. It is going to improve our daily productivity no end.”