Using Mobility Data to Compare Types of Parks & Open Spaces | Part 3

Comparing usage of different open spaces: how mobility insights help you understand the varying impacts of Covid-19.

Huq’s Report on Parks & Open Spaces through the Pandemic demonstrates how CommunityVision® works in practice to provide councils with the crucial evidence they need to make funding decisions.

In Part 3 of our blog series on the Parks Report, we look at how usage of your different parks and open spaces may have varied from the norm during this time of restricted mobility, and whether any trends can be identified.

Download the ebook Parks & Open Spaces Through the Pandemic for a detailed and informative look at how the UK’s parks and open spaces performed through the pandemic and until today.

Looking at different types of space

CommunityVision® allows you to identify a variety of places of interest upon which mobility data will be collected. The Parks Report looked at:

  • Allotments
  • Golf courses
  • Tennis courts
  • Other sports facilities
  • Playing fields
  • Play spaces
  • Public parks and gardens
  • Cemeteries
  • Religious grounds

You might assume that once people face restrictions on their movements, every park and green space will see the same impact on usage. But Huq’s data insights show that this was not the case during the pandemic.

Hierarchy of use remained constant

Surprising as it may seem, footfall across each type of open space kept roughly the same
cardinality over the full period. In other words, the order from highest to least performing remained constant across both years, although one might think that in difficult times open religious grounds, for example, might see higher relative footfall.

Significant variance between types of space

During the first lockdown in March 2020, visits to all types of open space declined sharply. Open spaces for sports, including golf and bowling greens, were amongst the hardest hit. The most resilient spaces were allotments and play spaces, down 43 and 47 percent respectively, compared to 54 and 58 point drops for golf and bowls. CommunityVision® allows us to plot and visually compare footfall across a variety of spaces:

Footfall across types of parks through the pandemic

As the UK emerged from lockdown in July 2020 and spaces of all types demonstrated rapid recovery, this insight allows us to see a clear distinction in trends for the different spaces. Golf courses recorded the greatest rise in footfall, up 69% from mid-April to July. Allotments, religious grounds and playing fields also recovered well with gains of 51-56%. By contrast, public parks, tennis courts and other sports lagged behind, up by only 34-37%.

Detailed insights that demonstrate trends

Mapping the data for each type of use on the same chart allows us to spot the divergence. The Parks Report shows that significant variance has emerged between different types of space since January 2020, with visits according to type varying by as much as 32% from the same starting point.

These differences are meaningful for councils looking to support their communities. Discretionary uses such as sports suffer the most during lockdowns, but experience the fastest recovery as measures ease, indicating pent-up demand. Essential spaces like allotments and play areas performed throughout, reflecting the necessity of these facilities to residents.

Read the full Parks Report

For more detail on how your council can use such mobility data insights, and to see Huq’s conclusions and recommendations, download a full copy of Huq’s Report on Parks & Open Spaces through the Pandemic here.

Do you work in local government?

Find out how you can build better communities using mobility data to make decisions. CommunityVision®, Huq’s leading product for local government teams, offers real-time and easy-to-use insights on how people use your towns.

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