Monitoring visitor volumes is a valuable tool for planning, managing, and renovating a park system. Accurate knowledge of trail and facility usage can help make informed operational decisions, improve maintenance, and justify future investments.
If you want to implement a counting system in a park, follow these best practices to get the most out of your data:
1. Define your goals
Think about exactly what you want to accomplish with your count data. For example, do you want to identify trends in visitor flows over time, determine usage patterns, measure the impact of renovations, or find out which facilities are being used the most?
2. Identify key sites to place the counters
Choose the busiest or most representative locations in the park to place the counters, such as trailheads, feeder trails, visitor centers, etc.
3. Use automated counts to extrapolate manual counts
Continuous automated counts can be used to extrapolate data from short-term manual counts. This method allows you to cover a larger area with fewer automatic counters.
4. Consider how you’ll share the data
Do you need to communicate with administrators, other departments, or the public? Websites and reports are effective ways to raise awareness, strengthen messaging, and share data.
5. Mix qualitative and quantitative data to gain better insights
While automated count data reveals baselines and trends, manual observations and surveys gather data on demographics and behaviour. This continuous quality data can be used to improve park maintenance and management, justify new funding, write better grant applications, and more.
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, the Eco-Counter team 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.
- This post was originally published on the Parks & Rec Business magazine.