Parks & Equity: Using PyQGIS and Rgeoda for Evaluating Localized Equitable Park Access across the United States
2021-10-01, 13:30–14:00, Humahuaca

Across urbanized areas in the US, who are the communities being served by parks, and who is left out? In park system planning, the traditional measure of equitable access to parks has been the 10-minute walk isochrone, determining what percentage of residents live within a short walk of a park. However, these metrics do not capture inequities in park access for different demographic groups, nor do they consider the quality of parks that communities have access to. This research project explored a methodology to layer in considerations of park size, population density, and demographic characteristics to allow a more nuanced look at the equity of park access in urbanized areas across the United States. PyQGIS and Rgeoda are two open source platforms used for this analysis to allow for localized analysis at the national scale, as well as to make this analysis available to cities, towns, and other researchers interested in parks equity.

Parks are an essential part of a city’s social life, supporting health and wellness for communities across our country. Access to high-quality parks with diverse amenities and programs is particularly critical for communities in urbanized areas with backyard deficits. Ensuring equitable access to great parks for all communities, especially those that are majority people of color or low-income, is increasingly the focus of many cities looking to plan civic parks and resilience practices for the future.

Building on existing efforts to measure park access by the Trust for Public Land (TPL)’s “ParkServe” tool and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)’s “Park Metrics”, this research project explored methods for measuring park access that go beyond the 10-minute walk circle. Using publicly available nation-wide datasets, we analyzed how access varies for different kinds of Americans. How equitable are our nation’s urban parks? How does access vary for people of color and low income residents?

This presentation will showcase our approach to understanding parks and equity beyond the 10-minute walk measure and how we used PyQGIS and Rgeoda to scale up the analysis to all 487 urbanized areas in the US.

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Authors and Affiliations

Jill Allen Dixon (1)
Laura Marett (2)
Elaine Limmer (3)
Kai Ying Lau (4)
Ken Goulding (5)
Raj Adi Raman (6)

(1) Sasaki Associates, Boston, USA
(2) Sasaki Associates, Boston, USA
(3) Sasaki Associates, Boston, USA
(4) Sasaki Associates, Boston, USA
(5) Sasaki Associates, Boston, USA
(6) Sasaki Associates, Boston, USA


Use cases & applications


Data visualization: spatial analysis, manipulation and visualization


1 - Principiants. No required specific knowledge is needed.

Language of the Presentation


As a planner and spatial analyst with Sasaki Strategies, Kai Ying Lau works to bring a spatial and data-driven approach to planning strategies by working together with planners to generate solutions that reflect the local context and community priorities.