August 2, 2020

Measure and advocate local parks using geospatial data

This blog post discusses the role of geospatial data for advocating and measuring the essential role of parks and recreational areas in and around cities and metropolitan areas.

Measure and advocate local parks using geospatial data

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Park and recreational areas are among the more popular open places to promote physical and mental health, while delivering vital community services and programs. Now some cities are enabling the use of geospatial data insights to visualize park activity, visits, and engagement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Numerous studies show there are physical and mental health benefits to spending time in green spaces. Local parks, trails and open spaces have recently become even more of a respite from stress. In March 2020, the National Recreation and Park Association released  a joint statement about using parks and open spaces while maintaining physical distancing. To date, more than 1,000 groups nationwide have signed on to voice support of the safe use of parks during this crisis.

Some other city leaders from across the country are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic by using innovative new techniques like using geospatial data to make data-driven decisions and allocate budgets and resources for parks and recreational programs based on engagement and usage.

Cities like San Francisco are mulling new and innovative strategies for using data to measure the usage of parks and make the case of additional funding for recreation programs. Outdoor learning, outdoor co-working options, and outdoor events with social distancing are some of the new ideas that are being considered. To advocate and promote such ideas, cities are evaluating the use of geospatial intelligence and deep insights provided by platforms like The screen captures below demonstrate how one can measure the density of people, usage trends and movement patterns of visitors at Golden Gate Park, the pride and joy of San Franciscans.

City and County of San Francisco, People Density Choropleth Map
City and County of San Francisco, Parks, Gyms, Group Fitness
City and County of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Heat Map
City and County of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Visit Insights
City and County of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Movement Patterns

The City of San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley and the 10th largest metro in the US is just one smart city using to provide people counts and visit trends by day, month, and season to monitor it's parks, open spaces, downtown neighborhoods, and commercial zones.

"Using the dashboard in the browser is easy", says Sal Alvarez at the City of San Jose's Office of Economic Development, "and it allows the City with visual access to aggregated counts, hourly and weekly visit trends, along with heat maps for every block and neighborhood in our city."

City of San Jose, Parks and Trails around Guadalupe River
City of San Jose, Los Gatos Creek Trail
City of San Jose, Overfelt Botanical Gardens

The City of San Leandro in Alameda County is another shining example of how cities can get smarter with geolocation intelligence. Says Tony Batalla, the City's CTO: "The CITYDATA team has become my trusted partner for conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and launching a citywide, integrated data analytics dashboard using the the framework. We tied together City datasets and CITYDATA's geolocation data insights to present 311 impact analytics, parks and recreation analytics, building & encroachment permits analytics, and more."

The interactive visual dashboard and APIs analyze trillions of crowdsourced data points every month to provide fresh, accurate and anonymized insights about the presence, activity, and movement of people in over 1,530 cities worldwide. The dashboard offers daily analytics for parks and open spaces in every county and city across the United States.

In the time of COVID-19, many park and recreation agencies around the country find themselves in a budget squeeze, with declining tax support and revenues in the face of rising expenses due to enhanced safety measures and added services. Three in four park and recreational agencies have reported receiving additional funding from a variety of sources to support their response to the pandemic and mitigate the impact of budget cuts and revenue shortfalls.

With the help of people-intelligence dashboards like, cities can now actively report and monitor their parks and recreational areas usage while also ensuring compliance when receiving COVID-19 related federal funding, such as the CARES Act or FEMA.

To learn more about how to sign-up for and access the dashboard for your city, feel free to contact or just sign up online here.

Powered by is a San Francisco based startup that has been featured in the GovTech 100 list for 2018, 2019, and 2020, an exclusive list of innovative companies that provide technology products and solutions for the public sector. We provides People Intelligence™ as a service for smarter cities and real-world businesses. By combining public and private data, our technology platform unlocks deep insights that were previously inaccessible to city departments. makes it easy for city leaders to make data-driven decisions to create social impact and engage with local communities. Our AI platform, technology, and service are designed to make cities smarter, safer, and sustainable.