Researchers from the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM SPbU) have created an algorithm for finding efficient park development strategies based on the needs of visitors. The results of the project were presented at the Vysokovsky Forum "Evidence-Based Urban Planning: New Challenges" held by HSE in Moscow.
The study "Overcoming the Survivor Bias in Planning the Development of City Parks" is based on the data collected by the authors as part of the consulting project for the Kirov Central Culture and Leisure Park (Saint Petersburg). The data was researched and analyzed by the students of GSOM SPbU Master's program in city planning (now Smart City Management). Survivor bias stands for wrong conclusions made on the basis of only a part of available facts. For city parks, it means collecting feedback only from the visitors and ignoring the opinion of citizens that do not visit the park.
"The easiest way to find out the needs and interests of park visitors is to post a poll on the park's social media. This is exactly what usually happens, but in this case we learn the opinions of those people who already visit the park and follow its news. If the park's administration wishes to attract a larger audience, it is necessary to find out the opinion and needs of potential visitors — residents of both neighboring and remote city districts. For example, when we polled Saint Petersburg citizens on their attitude to the Kirov Central Culture and Leisure Park, we found out that residents of all districts are ready to visit cultural events that take place in the park", — shares Egor Starshov, doctoral student and assistant of Smart City Management Master's program academic director.
GSOM SPbU experts assume that when planning the development of a park in general and its communication strategy in particular, it is important to group the existing and potential visitors based on their needs, not on their attitude to the available infrastructure. Further park development should not be based on the existing park infrastructure.
For example, now the major part (32%) of visitors are "occasional", and an easy way to get to the park is important for them. They see an attractive park as a quiet place to rest in the city near to their home. The second largest part are visitors with children, who come to the park from other city districts (27%), actively use additional services and wish to find more children's playgrounds in the park. The majority of the visitors of cultural events in the park (17%) are women over 30 years old, and ads of such events have to be targeted based on this audience segment.
"We cannot aim at all groups of visitors at the same time. Too many playgrounds and sports facilities will discourage those who seek silence and calmness, sport lovers are not going to enjoy running where dog owners let their pets run unleashed, and so on. There are a lot of details that have to be taken into account. Our algorithms will help park administrations to ask themselves the right questions and make such conclusions so as to satisfy the largest possible number of visitors and make them wish to visit the park more often", — assumes Ekaterina Sokolova, Associate Professor at the Department of Public Administration.
The Vysokovsky Forum is a large scientific and expert event where urbanists, architects and city managers discuss the research results, experience of top international researchers and experts in the area of urban planning and transport, and search for high-potential solutions for the key industry tasks.