Countdown’s Dunedin stores are trialling CCS Disability Action’s Access Aware app. The Access Aware app enables passers-by to upload a photo of any car parked in a mobility car park which isn’t displaying a valid permit. The app will then alert the relevant store team, who will relay a message over the store’s PA politely asking for the car to be moved to another car park.

Countdown is trialling the app for three months in its four Dunedin stores: Dunedin Central, Dunedin South, Mailer Street and Andersons Bay. The trial will look at customer, and team feedback, as well as the number of reports received, so that Countdown can consider rolling out the technology across other stores.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, safety and sustainability, said Countdown is committed to providing customers with safe and convenient mobility car parks across the country. “Having mobility car parks as close to our store entrance as possible is incredibly important for any of our customers with mobility needs.  While the vast majority of New Zealanders are respectful of ensuring mobility parks are available for customers with the right permits, introducing the Access Aware app is an opportunity to reiterate that these car parks are there for a purpose, to help someone get in and out of our stores more easily.”

In addition to utilising the app, Countdown is also revamping its mobility car parks across the country with new blue, non-slip paint as well as additional space between car parks to accommodate wheelchair and mobility van access.

David Matthews, chief executive of CCS Disability Action, said that they were delighted that Countdown is the country’s first supermarket chain to test the Access Aware app.

“Feedback from our 150,000 mobility parking permit holders would indicate that supermarkets and other retailers are some of the most misused mobility car parks in the country causing immense frustration and stopping people going about their daily lives,” said Matthews.

“We regularly hear that people without permits park in a mobility car park because they’re just going to be a ‘couple of minutes’ or ‘they didn’t see the sign’. 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. Car parks close to the door, with plenty of space around them, are essential for our disabled community and much safer. Countdown has really stepped up by launching this trial of our Access Aware app, and we commend them highly for showing this kind of leadership.”