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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Understanding the use of greenspace before and during the COVID-19 pandemic by using mobile phone app data

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Engagement with natural areas has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, and this may well form one of the enduring legacies of this time. A better understanding of human interactions with urban greenspace, and how patterns of use have changed, including inequalities of use, will be crucial for decision makers to adequately manage and direct resources within these natural spaces as we recover from the pandemic. Current evidence on use of natural spaces is limited and does not easily support site-specific analysis or with fine spatio-temporal distinctions. Coupled with difficulties on primary data gathered throughout the pandemic, there is a general knowledge gap on how changing behaviour has reshaped the use of natural areas and what inequalities have arisen in this dynamic. Through the case study of Glasgow’s open spaces, with a specific focus on one urban park, we apply new forms of urban big data from mobile devices to show how the use of greenspace has changed through the restrictions imposed during Covid-19 pandemic. The research findings will help park managers, urban planners, and policymakers better design the recovery and renewal of our cities after the pandemic.

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