We are delighted to announce that nearly £500,000 in National Lottery funding and other support will be allocated to five projects as part of Rethinking Parks, a partnership between Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. We will be working with the five projects to test and develop ideas that could support parks to attract resources and develop more sustainable operating models.
The five projects will explore, prototype and test ways to address parks’ challenges. This will include increasing donations to parks, generating income from renewable energy and better managing existing resources through using data to understand how parks are used.
We hope to share and spread the learning from the programme to parks around the UK and so are keen to hear from others who would like to find out more.
Bournemouth Parks Foundation will trial the use of contactless technology in numerous different types of parks with varied demographics and challenges. This type of giving technology is becoming established in museums and art galleries, but is less proven in parks and other outdoor settings. The team will explore to what extent messaging techniques and behavioural insights can trigger contactless donations to establish the most successful methods for generating donations, capturing data and growing relationships with supporters .
The Lake District Foundation will test different approaches to donations in a range of park environments, including visitor attractions and more remote areas The project will investigate the factors that drive donations from visitors, and will also explore how to connect visitors with projects that contribute to the conservation and sustainable development of the park. The team will share their learning openly and will produce guidance for other parks managers through documenting their learning.
ParkPower will develop a strategic approach to identify the best opportunities to generate renewable energy in parks, and therefore cost savings and new income streams. This team will use geographic information systems to create an approach for identifying energy opportunities in parks that could be used in parks across Scotland and beyond. The project will involve a strong partnership between communities, councils and Greenspace Scotland and the findings, method and tools will be made freely available online for all for reuse and further development.
The University of Edinburgh and City of Edinburgh Council will trial new ways to better understand how Edinburgh’s parks are used and valued. The project will combine data collected by sensors with existing open data sources. The resulting open source toolkit will enable park managers and stakeholders to gather, analyse and interpret data on the uses and users of parks. It will be co-designed and tested with Friends groups and utilise open-source software to encourage accessibility, replication and sustainability.
The University of Nottingham will test WiFi sensing as a potential solution to the challenge of understanding parks users and usage. The project will take an iterative approach, testing both sensing hardware and analysis software. The aim is to create more cost effective and privacy aware solutions and guidance for parks managers to use in engagement and parks management. They will work in partnership with Nottingham City Council, with a particular focus on Colwick Park and Highfields Park.
We hope that our grantees will benefit from being part of the Rethinking Parks programme. They will be attending a workshop in September to further develop their projects, and to hear from experts in prototyping. We want the whole parks sector to benefit from the tools being developed, and will be blogging throughout the programme and sharing learning.
You can find updates on the Rethinking Parks project page and via the Nesta newsletter.