A QUality INdex of Parks for Youth (QUINPY): Evaluating urban parks through geographic information systems

Rigolon, A. & Németh, J.

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Rigolon, A., & Németh, J. (2018). A QUality INdex of Parks for Youth (QUINPY): Evaluating urban parks through geographic information systems. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 45(2), 275-294.. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265813516672212

Evaluation Tool , Geographic Information System , Park Quality , Urban Parks , Young people

Visiting urban parks regularly can provide significant physical and mental health benefits for children and teenagers, but these benefits are tempered by park quality, amenities, maintenance, and safety. Therefore, planning and public health scholars have developed instruments to measure park quality, but most of these tools require costly and time consuming field surveys and only a handful focus specifically on youth. We rectify these issues by developing the QUality INdex of Parks for Youth (QUINPY) based on a robust literature review of studies on young people’s park visitation habits and an extensive validation process by academic and professional experts. Importantly, the QUINPY relies on publicly available geospatial data to measure park quality. We then successfully pilot test the QUINPY in Denver and New York City. We believe that park agencies, planning consultants, researchers, and nonprofits aiming to assess park quality will find this tool useful. The QUINPY is particularly promising given the increasing amount of publicly available geospatial data and other recent advancements in geospatial science.

Main finding
This article describes the development and use of the indexical measuring tool, QUINPY (Quality Index of Parks for Youth), to rate city parks. The authors’ review of literature identified five themes which encompass park features that matter the most for young people and were then incorporated into the QUINPY. The themes are: structured play diversity, nature, park size, park maintenance, and park safety. The resulting index for QUINPY has 18 variables grouped into these 5 themes for a total of 32 points. An example of variables, such as for those in the structured play diversity theme, include: playground number, playground surface, sport courts, walking/biking paths, and public swimming pool. Each variable is ranked ‘0’ for not present, ‘1’ for present, and ‘2’ for more than one present. QUINPY can be used to democratize data on the quality of parks and other public amenities and for data driven park planning.

Description of method used in the article
The authors conducted a analytical review of park studies, focusing on young people's park visitation and outdoor play, that was used to create an index based on available GIS data in Denver, CO. Literature was pulled from full-text academic databases using search terms like "child" OR "youth "OR "young people" AND "outdoor play" OR "parks" OR "school yard" as some examples. A total of 33 scholars with backgrounds in planning, urban design, and landscape architecture were invited to participate in the validation process and 21 accepted to assess the validity of the measurement tool. The experts ranked six parks in Denver based on how the parks should promote repeated and prolonged visitation among a diverse set of children and teenagers.

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Urban Planning
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