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1 February 2017
Count Data Best Practices: Building a Parks and Rec Data Toolkit
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Visitor count data is an effective way to tell a park or trail’s story. In one case, data helped save a home for llamas! High Park Zoo in Toronto faced proposed budget cuts in 2012, and using count data, they successfully made the case for its value. Over 500,000 visitors were recorded annually using PYRO counters.

Pinpointing where and when facilities are used most is important for managing resources and budgets. Great Rivers Greenway in St. Louis uses count data at various locations along their greenways to help determine where to focus maintenance and operational tasks.

Thinking of including count data in your data toolkit? Here are some best practices for collecting and analyzing count data.

  • Refine your goals: Decide what the most important outcome of your count data will be. Will the results be used to determine trends in visitor flows over time or to reveal which facilities are used most?
  • Determine the importance of vehicle traffic to your facility: Visitor counts entering a park can be used to generate more accurate vehicle occupancy statistics. ZELT counters can be configured to count cars for continuous count data.
  • Consider using automatic counts to extrapolate manual counts: Automatic count data can be used to extrapolate data collected from manual counts. Data for a wider area can be established with fewer automatic counters  using this process.
  • Know how you want to share data: Are there administrators, other departments or members of the public that you need to communicate with? Public webpages and exportable reports are effective options for increasing  awareness and communicating data.
  • Strengthen insights with qualitative and quantitative data:
    Continuous count data establishes baselines and trends, while manual counts and surveys are an opportunity to collect data on demographics and behaviour.

Where do you see data-analysis heading in 2017 for parks and recreation facilities? Let us know in the comments!


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