Passive Mobile Data Analysis of Visitor Use in Parks and Protected Areas: Prospects and Challenges

Authors

  • Steve Lawson Otak, Inc.
  • Chris Monz Utah State University
  • Abbie Larkin Otak, Inc.

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18666/JPRA-2023-11892

Keywords:

Location-based services (LBS), Connected vehicles, Visitor use management, Visitation, Visitor use count, Visitor use tracking, Mobile data

Abstract

With the ever-increasing availability of passive mobile data products and services, parks and protected areas (PPA) professionals have a growing interest in accessing them to analyze visitor use in PPA. There is substantial potential to use passive mobile data for studies of visitor use in PPA, but there is still much to learn about the suitability of them for this purpose. In this paper we provide an assessment of the current state of passive mobile data, including suggestions about how to evaluate the suitability of these data for PPA applications. Our research note is informed by our experience working with PPA professionals over several decades combined, and by our recent work using passive mobile data for PPA applications. We emphasize that this is a rapidly changing field with new data and approaches emerging on a continual basis. Nonetheless, in this discussion we provide our current perspective.

Author Biographies

Steve Lawson, Otak, Inc.

Steve is a Director at Otak, Inc. and leads the Visitor Use Planning and Management team. Steve has specialized expertise in visitor use and social science research in public lands recreation areas, with a focus on visitor survey research, measurement and modeling of visitor use, and integrated transportation planning and visitor use management.    Steve's recent work includes serving as project team leader for integrated transportation planning and visitor use management in Mount Rainier National Park and the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, and development and pilot field implementation of a socioeconomic monitoring program for the National Park Service. Steve also recently served as principal investigator on a study of visitor use and safety on the Half Dome Cables in Yosemite National Park.   Steve is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. Steve has published more than 40 peer-reviewed papers in outdoor recreation and federal lands management-related journals, and is co-editor of a book entitled Sustainable Transportation in the National Parks: From Acadia to Zion.

 

Chris Monz, Utah State University

Department of Environment and Society

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Published

2023-05-15

Issue

Section

Research Notes