Today, people are constantly connected. Smartphones are getting smarter and technology is practically seen as a necessity versus a “nice-to-have”. However, with the increase of fast-paced lifestyles, there is growing concern over where technology should be limited. Traditionally, parks and recreational environments have been viewed as a place to escape the connected world and serve as a “tech-free” zone, but usage trends show that keeping these spaces as such creates a missed opportunity to engage a sizable demographic in the ways that they are comfortable communicating. Parks nowadays must find the perfect balance between the old and the new, and show visitors that technology can be a tool to help enhance the parks experience.
Parks across the country have begun to see the value in slowly integrating technology into their spaces in ways such as solar-powered charging stations, park-wide Wi-Fi networks, space-specific apps, or augmented reality experiences to aid education. Implementation of technology in parks has also uncovered some clear advantages for communities, especially in the area of visitor engagement. Learn more about three common ways parks are improving the user experience with technology:
Wi-Fi is critical for many visitors looking to stay connected to work, family, or friends. But, beyond offering these services as a courtesy, parks can tap into the data that a connected park could provide. Using the data from both the network and smartphone searches, parks officials have the opportunity to learn more about attendance and usage trends. This information can show how certain events or new services fare against a typical day by comparing network usage data trends to create benchmarks. Monitoring usage also can highlight what marketing channels park visitors use the most to connect with them in unique ways. Additionally, allowing easier access to social networks provides parks with a new promotional tool. Social media has helped parks gather data on wildlife movement, vegetation growth, and climate change through crowdsourced information while helping to engage the next generation of parks users. Access to free Wi-Fi in communities where connectivity is scarce also has the ability to create an increase in social equity.
Specialty parks mobile applications continue to become popular in an effort to better connect with users of the space. These apps are able to communicate with park users to provide visitor information, park maps, event registration opportunities, space reservations, and manage maintenance requests. App-based games that can be used in parks environments also have the ability to engage individuals of all ages and abilities. For example, St. Petersburg Parks & Recreation Department has integrated a mobile app into their parks system to help educate users of their archeological exhibits with relevant articles and pictures of artifacts. Augmented reality games hosted on mobile apps also have popped up at parks and playgrounds across the nation to educate and attract younger generations to public spaces through convergence with technology.
Music is considered to be a language that can help facilitate a community connection and sense of belonging. Music has also been known to stimulate children’s curiosity and encourage creativity and self-expression. An intentional integration of music into recreational spaces can improve the experience, so long as a park is still recognizable as a park. Parks in Europe and Asia have started to install DJ Booths in their space to attract teens and to generate positive and creative hang out spots. Users can play with the equipment to manipulate pre-loaded songs or even music from their own smartphones, and parks can monitor user statistics through the internet connection. Other parks have implemented an Audio Experience Software solution in an effort to communicate with customers through music and custom messaging. Such software can not only set the vibe of an environment, but also promote events, play routine safety announcements, and inform users about community news to help facilitate a more efficient organization. Both types of music-based enhancements provide an additional resource for events and programming in these public spaces.
Today, technology influences every part of our lives — work, play, and beyond. While traditionally, technology has been kept out of parks, it may be key to solving some of the most persistent challenges in park development and operations. Small, intuitive technological updates to a space can have a significant impact on operational efficiency and visitor experience without requiring a drastic change in management or expenses. However, parks must remember that innovating is never complete, and park amenities must evolve with the needs of their users.
Interested in learning more about using an Audio Experience Software (AES) platform and how audio can revolutionize the customer experience in your park or recreation facility? Request a demo of Vibenomics today, and learn how you can start creating on-brand music and messaging for your customers.