The Overview

In our pilot project with the New York City Parks Department and Mayor's Office of Tech+Innovation we have deployed sensors in our benches to measure the activity of Highbridge Park in the Bronx. We'll be working with NYC as well as a small group of innovative cities this summer to build out the features of Soofa Atlas.

This will be an open and collaborative process, so we also asked our network of civic innovators, parks directors, real estate developers, designers, and everyone who cares deeply about cities what they would want to measure using our pedestrian activity data. In the survey we sent, we asked our collaborators to rank the items below in order of importance. To keep things simple, we asked how important these would be in helping create a smarter park. 

  • Knowing new versus returning users in the park
  • Knowing the park's activity level
  • Seeing average dwell time of visitors
  • Having a pedestrian flow map
  • Being able to compare one park with another
  • Knowing how weather impacts park use
  • Having an events application to highlight events and measure attendance
  • Being able to see what people are saying on social media when hanging out in the park

The Quantitative Results

We tabulated the results and separated out those who were park directors and employees of parks from those who were not. 

Everyone Else

  1.  New versus returning users
  2.  Activity level
  3.  Dwell time
  4.  Pedestrian flow map
  5.  Events application
  6.  Park comparison
  7.  Social media listening
  8.  Weather impact 

Parks Directors/ Employees

  1.  Activity level
  2.  Dwell time
  3.  New versus returning users
  4.  Pedestrian flow map
  5.  Park comparison
  6.  Events application
  7.  Social media listening
  8.  Weather impact 

The Qualitative Results

In addition to asking our collaborators to rank the above set of features, we also asked them to tell us what we missed. Here are some of our favorite ideas, most of which we are planning to investigate further. 

  • Customer satisfaction 
  • Being able to leave user history events and future wishes
  • Linking park user counts to the size of infrastructure (knowing how big to make something or how much of something to buy) and to the planning of park events or services to best meet the needs of the community. 

Our Next Steps

We've partnered with a group of very innovative and forwarding thinking cities and parks, known collectively as the Soofa Beta Cities. Over the coming months we'll be developing numerous features in Soofa Atlas to both meet the needs of our partners as well as cities, real estate developers, and parks all over the world. We'll continue to ask for your input through similar surveys, so keep on the look out. And, if you would like to inquire about becoming a Soofa Beta City, please let us know. We will be closing the application process at the end of July 2016. Simply follow the link below and send us a note indicating you'd like to be part of our beta program.

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