Evaluating people's accessibility to public parks using Geographic Information Systems: a case study in Ames, Iowa
Research on urban service delivery, such as transportation services, medical services, park and recreation services, employment services, etc. has proliferated during past few decades. These research deals with who are the disadvantaged, where they are located and what type of characteristics do they have in terms of socio-economic and demographic profiles. This study gives particular attention to empirical studies and presents a method for drawing conclusions about spatial equity in distribution of services. The methodology presented is a step by step approach of using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Spatial Analysis that is easy for adoption by any public authority. A case study of the spatial distribution of neighborhood and community parks in Ames, Iowa is presented here. In addition to the traditional methods such as container approach (counting the number of facilities in an aerial unit), radius method (buffering a standard walkable area around the park), and creating thiessen polygon as service area of parks, the study considers a potential measure of distance to the nearest park as indicators of accessibility.;Local indicators of spatial association within exploratory spatial data analysis are used to study the spatial distribution of need and accessibility. Raster Analysis is performed to identify neighborhoods in Ames that have high need and high accessibility and high need and low accessibility. The future locations of the parks are then evaluated. The results from the analysis show that there are some neighborhoods in Ames, where the need for public parks is higher, but the accessibility to parks is low. These are the critical areas that public decision makers need to focus on. Similarly, there are neighborhoods with higher needs and having higher accessibility to parks. These are the areas where Ames Park and Recreation Department has provided adequate park facilities. The future locations of the parks in the South, and Southwest of Ames are effective as some neighborhoods in these parts of Ames have been identified as having high need for park but currently have low accessibility to parks.