Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Healthy Data Trends

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Healthy Data Trends

Article excerpt

I recently had the pleasure of attending the NRPA Data-Driven Government and Parks and Recreation Innovation Lab in Boston. To be truthful, I wasn't sure how I would react to spending three days learning about technology and its place in government. However, despite my Boomer upbringing and my own technology-deficit disorder, I was blown away by Boston's use of technology I to improve efficiency and effectiveness. I learned about the dashboards being I used by Mayor Marty Walsh to quantify results in performance. I and my colleagues got an inside glimpse at research and data visualization at MIT, and I was amazed by studies that tracked recycled trash across the country, robots in sewers that could predict where disease would spread in neighborhoods, and the use of cell phones to capture crowd behaviors. More importantly, I learned from fellow professionals about why and how the use of data could help demonstrate the impact of parks and open space on good health.

I listened to conversations about Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department's study on how "greenness," or having trees in neighborhoods, was linked to better health in distressed areas. I heard about Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C.'s work with police departments and how crime among young people was reduced when late-night recreation programs were available.

Like all NRPA member organizations, Great Rivers Greenway shares the anecdotes of users who say their walking clubs, fitness classes or just time in nature improves their daily lives. …

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