HKS Affiliated Authors

Director, Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University
Emma Bloomberg Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management


April 19, 2024, Book: "Leveraging Smartphone Data to Understand Demographic Trends in Park Visits The research team set out to answer two questions: (1) Did the frequency of city park visits change during the pandemic? And (2) did those changes differ by neighborhood racial and economic composition? To test whether park use changed during COVID-19, they used information provided by SafeGraph, a company that legally coll. [...] Hidden Barriers to Open Venues | 2 The magnitude of the SafeGraph data—and the fact that the company offered it at no cost for academic and public interest research during the COVID-19 health emergency—gave the researchers an unprecedent. [...] Takeaways Big datasets, like the smartphone mobility data used in the study, can help city governments keep their finger on the pulse of what is going on in their communities and more quickly uncover hidden barriers in access to public spaces. [...] While this study focused on city parks, its approach can potentially serve cities facing a broad range of challenges—from understanding demographic trends in visits to healthcare facilities and libraries or the use of public transit, to determining the best locations to build low-income housing and public schools. [...] The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, located at the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, is a collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Bloomberg Philanthropies to equip mayors and senior city officials to tackle complex challenges in their cities and improve the quality of life of their residents."