Background and Challenge
ParksHerts originated from the Hertfordshire Association of Cultural Officers Parks Officers Group (HACO) which recognised that there was a lack of consistent, accessible and good quality online information about the county’s parks and open spaces. This is a particular challenge for a county such as Hertfordshire where park ownership is spread across administrative areas.
Hertfordshire also faces challenges to address the levels of obesity and physical activity within the population. 62.8% of Hertfordshire adults (2013-15) and 36.7% of children in year 6 (2015) were classified as overweight or obese with only 58.7% of adults classed as physically active (2015). (source: Public Health England. 2016. Public Health Outcomes Framework (Online)).
ParksHerts provides an innovative solution to these challenges. It is a mobile-first website providing a single information point for over a hundred of Hertfordshire’s parks and open spaces from recreation grounds through to woodlands and award winning flagship parks, irrespective of administrative ownership. It provides a way for people to discover and enjoy sites they know and those that they have not discovered, whilst also supporting people to make outdoor exercise part of their everyday lives.
Funding for the project was secured from Hertfordshire County Council Public Health, ten Hertfordshire District/Borough Councils and one Parish Council. Support from partners has been both financial and as officer time from communications teams, public health officers and from parks teams who will maintain the information on their own parks into the future. ParksHerts is a clear demonstration that cross county projects really can and do work.
To remove barriers to access it is important that the site is as user friendly as possible. To support this, online and face to face consultation was undertaken.
Key features of the site include:
- A simple, attractive design with generic appeal.
- A mobile friendly site which can be used on desktops, tablets and mobile devices reflecting the desire from users to research at home and whilst out and about.
- The same basic info on each park (prioritised via user consultation and feedback).
- Activity routes are marked on the maps ranging from easy access (pushchair and wheelchair friendly) through to running routes, nature trails and orienteering. Step counts are provided for each.
- How to find the way in to the park: on foot, via public transport and by car. Exact car park locations are provided with links to google maps.
- Ability to promote park events via specific ‘events’ area.
- Clickable points of interest.
- Ability to focus on what is important by personalising the points of interest that appear on the map.
- I am in this park button provides a GPS ‘where am I’ location.
Since the site was officially launched at the Hertfordshire Green Flag Awards on 21 July 2017, the site has had:
- 5,374 users
- 7,379 sessions
- 25,943 page views
Publicity and promotion of the site is a partnership effort coordinated by communication professionals from the participating councils, using facebook, twitter and Instagram, resident’s magazines, partner websites and newsletters.
Liz Gore, Policy Manager, Hertsmere Borough Council
Aaron Niblett, Parks Projects Officer, Hertsmere Borough Council