Blog Post

The relationship between parks recreation and digital integration

10.10.2019 | 5 min read | Written by Thomas Lehner

Parks go beyond the presence of green. A park is meant to be a place of comfort and serenity, where people can ease their minds and interact with nature at a slow pace. We can all agree that many of our childhood memories happened in places that impacted our upbringing and the community we took part in. Parks are a crucial part of any community, participating vividly in the development of a neighbourhood on the small scale and the whole city on a bigger scale.

Greenery has been always a vital resource for humans’ well-being in urban areas, balancing between the usage of space and the diverse needs of the community served. Although recreation is not often a thing that is impacted by technology, but it is undeniable that technology has played an influential role and still is increasingly partaking the development of outdoor spaces.

Can parks and technology ever be unified?

Some people believe that technology has no place in a park, however a study held by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) showed that 77% of parents believe that adopting tech opportunities in nature will motivate their children to go outside. It’s not a matter of discussion whether to integrate technology in parks and recreational spots or not anymore, but more of how to creatively explore those technologies and make the best use of them.

Recreation is about the people and how they choose to shape their experiences in it, the more people are happy, the higher chances are they will re-visit the world outside their homes. A person would be surprised when knowing that Pokémon Go game had encouraged people to walk recording an average of 1,473 steps per person. That fact was an eye-opener for many urban architects who had it in the background for when its time to design a park that matches today’s needs.

Top tech trends in parks

  • Drones
    Recreational drones are being widely accepted in parks, known as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). Some park managers have raised their concerns about how this technology would be invasive of privacy, but opposing opinions believe that having drones in outdoor space will only assist in public safety and improve raise security measures.
  • Beacon counters
    Simply, beacon counters are Bluetooth enabled devices that can be planted in a variety of locations. Oneself can easily use a smartphone to detect another person’s location. This specific feature was widely welcomed by parents, as all they would need to do make their children wear a wrist-band, set a maximum distance for their child, and when that distance is exceeded an alarm would go off on their mobile device. Another benefit that is worth highlighting, beacons collect massive amounts of data and indicate the busiest hours through the day and detect the busiest days of the week.
  • Geo-fencing
    This is another form of monitoring system that is installed in parks and widely rooted for. Using RFID (Radio-frequency identification) or GPS, the system creates a virtual boundary around the real location with a limit of 200 meters. Geo-fencing is considered an added layer of protection that makes parents let go of worries and widens the parameters of their children’s safety.
  • Solar-powered benches
    Not only normal park benches, but one of the most well-accepted innovations for outdoor spaces, a solar-powered bench that is equipped with a charging wireless pads and provides WIFI that allows you to recharge your gear while you take a breather.
  • Augmented Reality on the playground
    A new AR company, Biba, has introduced a playground-based games for children that allow their parents or accompanied adult to control and monitor the game. As a safety measure, the adult activates the game and scans augmented reality markers on the ground to direct their child’s activity, giving the child a room to roam around freely on the playground while they lay back.

As we witness the rapid penetration of technology in our lives, we can’t outlook the great impact on the social fabrics of our societies. Nowadays, the role of technological advancements had influenced the outdoor experience and significantly portrayed in daily access for errands, transportation, communication and safety.

In light of the above mentioned, parks and recreation agencies are eagerly embracing the use of technology and taking advantage of utilizing its benefits. Let’s take a look at the top parks and recreation software:

  1. MyRec
    Founded back in 2001 in the U.S with the dream of offering a fully-featured, web-based, recreation management software that is very easy to get around and use. The platform offers simple online registration, supports communication with registrants, customizable announcements, and free demo site access.
  2. Innosoft Fusion
    From Canada the world in 2006, the company offers facilitations for operators and front-line staff to have the chance to manage their recreational facilities online. By integrating the latest technologies, they offer an all-in-one solution that starts from facility management and membership management to event/registration/ league and contract management.
  3. Tyler Parks and Rec
    Based in the U.S., their vision is to create communities that are fully connected with a healthy digital infrastructure. Their features include booking and scheduling, mapping for recreational activities, financial management, software support solutions and civic services, all while being fully committed to the public sector.
  4. Book King
    From 2002, this cloud-based recreational management software solution service is designed to seamlessly integrate cutting-edge modules. The presented features incorporate child care, check-in/out, contract/event/league/ registration/membership and facility management.

It’s almost 2020 and technology has been widely expanding in our lives, going beyond Bluetooth-enabled coffee machines, so why not embrace its existence for a good cause affecting all spectrums of society. Parks are a necessity for every community and the healthy development of its growth so if tech-enabled ideas are pushing towards going out and remembering what was it like before the age of internet, so be it.

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