Electronic owls to monitor park use

Model owls roosting in parks are to be equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots to help experts better understand how the spaces are used.

The owls are part of ParkLife – a collaborative project by the University and the City of Edinburgh Council.

The initiative will use data and digital technologies to gain insights into park use and engage the public in shaping the future of the spaces.

Local networks

The owls will be deployed in four parks – Inverleith Park, Leith Links, The Meadows & Bruntsfield Links and Saughton Park.

They will host local network hotspots that park users can connect to with mobile phone.

A website will present users with information about the park and the project.

The site will ask for permission to track users’ mobile phone for a limited period of time to learn how people move through the park. 

The information will be used to help park managers understand where resources are most needed.

The project is funded by National Endowment for Science Technology and Arts, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery fund.  

A similar project was run in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, where 3D-printed gnomes were placed in the park for people to talk to using their mobile phones.

This type of information will help park managers better understand the busiest areas of the park and where resources are most needed. All information collected will be anonymous and stored safely and securely.

Professor Jonathan SilvertownParkLife project leader, Biological Sciences, the University of Edinburgh

 The ParkLife project involving the Council and University of Edinburgh is a fantastic opportunity to gather information from park users that will prove invaluable as we help shape the future of our parks.

Councillor Karen DoranParks Leader and Vice Convener of Transport and Environment, City of Edinburgh Council

Related Links

ParkLife Project

Nesta: Rethinking Parks Programme