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20 June 2022
How the Presidio Trust integrated automated counters into the design of a new park in San Francisco
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When the highway to the Golden Gate Bridge that ran through the Presidio of San Francisco was replaced by the Presidio Parkway tunnels, the Presidio Trust had the opportunity to create an entirely new public park. To ensure it was tailored to the public’s needs, the organization took an innovative approach to figuring out what activities and attractions to include and invested in an automated counting system to measure the park’s success from day one. 

The Presidio Tunnel Tops project launched an international competition in 2014 to imagine what the new park could look like and to select a team to work with the public to design it. The Bay Area community helped select the winning team, and thousands of people shared their ideas for what landscapes, experiences and activities would make Presidio Tunnel Tops a place where everyone feels welcome. 

The new park, scheduled to open July 17, 2022, spans 14 acres in the heart of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. There will be overlooks, hiking trails, picnic areas and gathering spaces with stunning views of the bridge and the city, surrounded by gardens and meadows with 180 different native plants, as well as a transit center and visitor center with food options, a pavilion and a campfire area. 

Rendering of the new Presidio Tunnel Tops Park in San Francisco, California. (Credit: James Corner Field Operations)

Rendering of the new Presidio Tunnel Tops park in San Francisco, California. (Credit: James Corner Field Operations)

With so many attractions, there’s no doubt that Presidio Tunnel Tops will be a big success – but how big exactly? 

Having used automatic counters in its parks to make operational decisions for more than 12 years, the Presidio Trust knows from its own experience how helpful counting systems can be in monitoring attendance and making decisions. That’s why automated counters will play a strategic role in the new park, according to Tanya Cusenza, marketing manager for the Presidio Trust

– The counting system will allow us to understand the number of visitors to the new park, as well as seasonal and visitation patterns. This data will help us determine the best ways to manage and market Presidio Tunnel Tops. 

During the design phase, a total of nine PYRO People counters from Eco-Counter were integrated into the park design. These counters use an infrared sensor to detect people’s body heat as they walk by – so no photos are taken and the count data is completely anonymous – and identify direction. They’ll be installed at various entry points to the park to determine where visitors enter and exit the park. 

A PYRO People counter like the nine that will help the Presidio Trust monitor attendance at the new Presidio Tunnel Tops Park

A PYRO People counter like the nine that will help the Presidio Trust monitor attendance at the new Presidio Tunnel Tops Park

The count data will be combined with other sources of information such as surveys, observational data, focus groups, web analytics and online reviews. Tanya explains that this holistic data system allows park management to understand and respond to visitor demographics, awareness, visitation motivation, likelihood to recommend Presidio Park to a friend or family member, and barriers to visitation.

Let us monitor park visitation for you

Whether you’re planning a new park or implementing a counting system in an existing park, we can help. From setting your organization’s goal for data collection to choosing the right locations for the counters to analyzing the data, Eco-Counter can guide you every step of the way.

Call 514-849-9779 or send us an email to book a meeting with one of our client consultants.

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