Plan Equitable Outdoor Spaces With GIS

Creating opportunities for people to engage in outdoor activities and bond with nature is no small feat. Sure, you can designate a space for use, but how can you ensure that it equitably meets your residents’ needs?

That’s where location-based planning comes in. Communities must first decide whether or not they will allow a space to be open to the public for recreational purposes. For example, ensuring that the space is accessible and suitable for visitors might require building new roads to and from the outdoor facility. Conducting environmental and engineering studies and determining what building materials to use for the projects are also part of the planning process.

But planning is not a one-time event, and it’s only one part of the complex system of workflows needed to develop and maintain outdoor recreation facilities.

Once these facilities are designated and built, staff must rely on real-time monitoring to understand what is happening in and around those spaces. These deep insights ultimately improve and enhance decision-making. Proper monitoring allows employees to remain agile when it comes to decisions about openings, closures, maintenance and other needbased changes.

Staff often rely on GIS to monitor wildlife, assets, buildings, budgets, mobile workforces and more. They can also make budget and resource allocation decisions about capital projects based on current facility capacities. But the key moving forward will be how state and local governments tap into the full power of GIS to unify these data points across departments and systems.

Communities don’t have to guess or make gut decisions about whether they’re meeting the public’s needs. Instead, they can rely on sound and holistic insights to get concrete answers and make data-driven decisions.


GIS Dashboard Reengineers Planning at Texas State Parks

Challenge: In the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, regional directors and park managers have long been proponents of using data to guide their decisions. But data has not always been easy to use. With different divisions and programs within the agency using their own copies of spreadsheets to do their own analysis, they often ended up looking at very different data. There was no single source of information.

Solution: The Texas State Park Insights Viewer now serves as that single source of information. Using GIS, the viewer brings together revenue, visitation and capital construction data into an intuitive dashboard that enables regional directors, park managers and other employees to conduct the kind of detailed analysis that just wasn’t practical before.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “How GIS Drives Innovation Across Outdoor Recreation Spaces.” Download the full report here.

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