From Digital Space to Green Space: Increasing Resident Engagement with Technology

Posted on 12/14/17 9:55 AM by Renaud Beaulieu-Labbé et Kim Fortin

Many situations can create frustration for residents when dealing with city services, especially those related to a lack of technological access or convenience. If your municipality can't provide people with a quick, easy and intuitive online experience, the downward spiral of engagement that many cities are struggling with will only continue. However, the experience doesn't have to be a negative one. 

Discover what citizens think about Smart Management of Parks and Recreation (P&R) services.

Families in public park

Here are scenarios to serve as examples:

  • Residents line up early in the morning to register their children for swimming lessons. After waiting for an extended period of time in line, a mother is dismayed to find out that the class is full. 
  • John goes to the library to borrow a book but, once at the check-out counter, he realizes he has forgotten his library card, making it impossible for him to rent the book he's had his eye on.
  • You rush to your child's karate class only to discover that the gym is being used by another group, resulting in a cancelled session and major disappointment.

These kinds of aggravations can be avoided with a concerted effort to adopt current technology and integrating into the fabric of your community. For management and key decision makers, this often means a fundamental shift in philosophical approach, which is where the Smart City model comes into play.


RELATED: Creating a Loop of High Engagement in Parks and Recreation


Smart cities are those who streamline their city's day-to-day by strategically planning and implementing data-related processes that improve the lives of all who live and visit the community. These advancements are most noticeable in areas like transportation, law enforcement and public safety; however, public parks and recreation spaces are often left out of this large-scale movement that is sweeping both the United States and Canada.

That said, your municipality doesn't have to feel left behind. Becoming a Smart City is one of the most crucial changes you can make in order to secure long-term financial sustainability and ensure continued engagement and participation from residents.

Let's take a closer look at the Smart City methodology and how it applies to Parks and Recreation:

public park in fall

Why Should a Smart City Strategy be a Parks & Recreation Strategy?

An exclusive research study conducted by Nielsen in collaboration with Paysafe and Amilia was recently published and, for the first time, provides some insight into civic engagement with municipal recreation. In the digital age, residents prefer ease of access and real-time information to long registration waits and poor activity organisation. In short, they want a digital solution that not only meets their recreation needs, but also improves connectivity with all other city departments.

According to the report "From Green Space to Digital Place", the recreation aspect of a city's services is one of the most important criteria for Canadians and Americans when deciding where to live. In fact, 62% of all respondents (Canada and U.S.) stated that green and open leisure spaces "are essential in their choice of city."


RELATED: 5 Tips to Make Your Municipal Website More User-Friendly


Is Your City Lacking In Municipal Information?

Despite the fact that a high value is placed on recreation services, many residents are surprisingly misinformed about the availability of these services online. According to the exclusive report, almost half of Canadians (55%) "are unaware" that P&R facilities can be booked online. Smart Management platforms that incorporate an intelligent registration feature allow for real-time communication and a better transfer of information to the end user.

The lack of information on activities were also cited as the main barrier to the current registration process for leisure activities. Click here to discover the other points of friction that were identified in the study by citizens.

young girl playing in park

Are You Preparing for the Future of Intelligent Recreation?

How do you meet the needs of citizens in terms of recreation and leisure management? The report offers some interesting solutions that include a simple and user-friendly online registration platform, a public directory of the activities offered, and online payment options.

Amilia, with its digital P&R service, responds to these demands and places leisure at the very heart of their offer. According to respondents, "68% of Canadians find the prospect of a simple, integrated P&R software platform, like Amilia, appealing."


For more on how Parks and Recreation organizations are shifting towards an online-based operations approach, check out the episode dealing with this issue from the NRPA podcast below:


Discover unpublished data and insights on the municipal recreation sector
in the exclusive report "From Green Space to Digital Place".

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