13 Dec

People watching (in the name of science!)

People watching (in the name of science!)

Andropogon’s integrative researchers are hard at work gathering baseline data for Avalon Park & Preserve, just 60 miles from New York City. Rain or shine, we’ve been out in the field doing all sorts of social and environmental monitoring, which involves things like digging soil samples, staying silent for five whole minutes during soundscape recordings, and observing how visitors use the landscape – a process called “behavior mapping.”

According to the University of California, Davis’s Department of Psychology, behavior mapping is research that involves observing behavior over space and time. Common methods used in landscape architecture stem from studies of outdoor learning environments for very young children. The department differentiates between “individual-centered” behavior mapping, in which observers track one person’s movement over time, and “place-centered” behavior mapping, in which observers record anyone who enters a specific space over time. At Avalon, we focused on the latter.

By revealing what types of people (age, gender, etc.) visit which parts of Avalon, how frequently each area is visited, and how people use the space, we can help Avalon visualize its community’s relationship with the land. When paired with other data we’re collecting, we can also start to understand and reduce the conflicts between people and wildlife. To achieve this, we are forming a multi-faceted user information database that will be used to inform the master plan’s circulation, programming, management guidelines, and goals for visitor experience.

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