Does your municipality have specific policies for urban sports? How do you link this to cross-domain sports policy? And how - specifically for urban sports - do you implement the different phases of the policy process? In a series of three articles, we share practical examples of how various municipalities approach this. This is phase 3: follow-up policy in Groningen and Eindhoven.
Phase 3 - Groningen maps urban through a dashboard
Insights through a dashboard
Eindhoven investigates use of Urban Sportpark
Step 8: Monitoring and evaluation
Finally: securing and anchoring
More examples or getting started with urban yourself?
Policy examples urban sports
This article is part of three case studies on making policy in terms of urban sports.
Phase 1: devising policy in Dordrecht
Phase 2: making policy in Nijmegen
Phase 3: follow-up policy in Eindhoven and Groningen
In the publication Municipalities take up Urban Sports from 'Kennisbank Sport en Bewegen', you will find an extensive description on these cases.
How to make urban sports policy?
Urban sports are a collective of activities, which differs a lot from traditional sports policy in municipalities. Urban sports can be seen as a fusion of sports and culture. Within municipalities, there are different departments and budgets for each single activity in this fusion. The 'do it yourself' mentality of the urban sporters scene can be at odds with the mentality of municipalities, where safety and rules are the highest priority. These tensions result in urban sports policy not fitting in with the sports policy of your municipality. How can we fix this? Let us show you with the Roadmap Movement-friendly Environment.
Policy in 3 phases and 9 steps
The Roadmap Movement-friendly Environment is our e-learning map where you will find 9 clear steps on how to achieve sustainable policy for a movement-friendly environment. The map contains the total process, from agenda setting to policy assurance. Every step embodies tips and tricks.
Phase 1: Thinking (setting the agenda, forming a vision, analyzing and setting goals)
Phase 2: Achieve (organise, plan and execute)
Phase 3: Follow-up (monitoring & evaluation and securing & anchoring)
Phase 3 - Follow-up | Groningen maps urban through a dashboard
In this article, we zoom in on the third phase of policy-making on urban sports: policy follow-up. The municipality of Groningen is already well advanced in urban sports policy. We show how this municipality monitors, evaluates, secures and anchors its policy.
Step 8: Monitoring and evaluating
Sensors, data, dashboards and monitoring and measuring impact: these are hot items these days. It makes sense, because as a municipality you want to know what investments in urban infrastructure (hardware) and activities (software) deliver. Technological developments make measuring impact increasingly easy.
The city of Groningen uses a dashboard by LINES by CityLegends. With this method, you gather input from the users of urban places. Also, you map the use of locations 'anonymously', using techniques that guarantee privacy.
How does it work? In a nutshell, urban athletes create their own 'spots' in this urban community app. These are spots in the city where they practice their sport. These can be both indoor and outdoor parks, spontaneous 'street spots' and even urban shops. Each spot has labels, such as the presence of lighting, a skateable ramp, a parkour object, or a water point. It is essential to map the city organically. The community wants to let each other know where the best spots are in the city and so these are mapped organically from the users.
Insights through a dashboard
Next, urban athletes will rate all these spots in the app. And the municipality has insights into all local urban spots through a dashboard. Among other things, the municipality sees:
Are the locations safe and easily accessible?
How actively are the spots being used?
What is the quality of the spot?
What is the difference between genders?
What is the difference between various urban target groups?
What is the user satisfaction?
The level of nuisance from others such as loitering?
Urban athletes can also use the app to inform their own supporters about the facilities (or deficiencies) in their municipality. This way, Groningen's athletes know at a single glance where the best spots are for their disciplines. Are there loitering youths somewhere, or is a place of poor quality? Then, as an athlete, look for another location.
Groningen thus measures and evaluates the use and quality of its urban sports spots. This information gives the municipality insight into the size of the local urban scene and where the infrastructure could use a refurbishment.
The data from the dashboard were shared in Groningen with the Sports Board, councillors and policy staff. This resulted in:
More political support for urban.
More financial budget for urban.
More capacity (man-hours for community sports coaches and policy staff) to work with urban.
Renovation of existing - or realization of new - infrastructure. This has already resulted in skate parks, freerun parks and a pumptrack.
The urban scene is involved in the realization of the new infrastructure through an urban working group.
Groningen developed an urban sports agenda.
Ezra Schrijver (Sports Policy Advisor) states: "Through the input from the scene and the data, we got more support for urban. Initiatives can now be expanded further".
Eindhoven researches use of Urban Sports Park
Eindhoven municipality is also a good example of the follow-up policy phase. The municipality constructed the Urban Sports Park in 2020. This multifunctional park offers all kinds of urban facilities such as calisthenics, survival and freerun and a pumptrack. The Urban Sports Park seems incredibly popular, as it is visited daily.
But Eindhoven wanted to know: how popular is the park really? Which target groups visit it? When do they visit the park? And what are their experiences, wishes and needs? And what is the 'exercise effect' of the park?
Step 8 in Eindhoven
Eindhoven carried out both qualitative and quantitative research into the use of the Urban Sports Park. For a year, measurements were taken with six sensors at all entrances. These sensors logged how many people visited the park and at what time. With (live) dashboards, peak hours and trends were determined (seasons and weather conditions were taken into account). The first measurement showed that the park attracted over 36,000 visitors in 2.5 months. On average, there were almost 500 visitors per day, with a peak on Sunday afternoons around 3pm.
Besides monitoring visitors, the municipality also made observations to better understand the different user groups of the park. And which parts of the park they particularly use. The municipality also asked users about their experiences and motivations.
Urban facilities score above average
The park scores an 8.3 out of 10. It appeals to young and old audiences, although it is notable that more men than women visit the park. The pumptrack, calisthenics and the football and basketball cage are the most popular. But above all, 46% of respondents indicated that the Urban Sports Park had made them exercise more.
The evaluation showed that there is still a need for, among other things, a small catering point with first aid. And to pay attention to social control and maintenance in the park. With this information, Eindhoven municipality will further improve the park's facilities and programming. For the progress, visit www.innobeweeglab.nl.
Tips from Eindhoven
Combine insights from data with input from users.
You don't have to measure everyone to give a picture. A percentage of a target group also provides insight and direction.
Do research from different domains, such as Play, Green, Sports, Culture and Events.
Lastly: securing and anchoring
All the municipalities we described in this article series are pioneers in urban sports policy. Some are more advanced than others. Regardless of how far along your municipality is: make sure you have continuity in your policy and prevent it from being limited to one-off urban projects. In other words: how do you secure and anchor your policy?
A good example is the indoor skate park Waalhalla in the old Honig Factory in Nijmegen. It was supposed to be a temporary facility. But now the skate park is part of the neighbourhood and Waalhalla is financially supported by the municipality for a new roof and internal renovation (De Gelderlander).
Other important conditions for continuity are:
Continued communication between the urban scene and the municipality.
The challenge of uniting the interests of different domains.
Not only thinking in terms of larger urban sports venues, but also having an eye for maintaining and putting in place small play facilities for urban such as pavements, squares, street furniture, playable art, vacant land, and whatever else you can think of!
Do you know other examples of municipalities with urban sports policies? Let Sander Baartmans know at email@example.com, Urban Sports & Culture specialist.