High Fidelity Quantification of Social Distancing Behaviors in Public Recreation Areas

Principal Investigator(s):

Ingrid Schneider, Professor, Forest Resources


Project summary:

Outdoor exercise opportunities are increasingly important to maintain physical and mental health during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID 19). Outdoor recreation activity improves both physical and mental health, allowing people to meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for physical activity and recent nature dosage recommendations (White et al. 2019) of 120 minutes a week to reduce stress and anxiety. As such, the important role of parks and trails to wellness and health is heightened during the COVID 19 pandemic. Concurrently, the CDC recommends social distancing of 6 feet during all interactions. Actual compliance with this physical/social distancing is uncertain but anecdotal evidence and mainstream media evidence indicate a lack of compliance with this seemingly simple order. Similarly, ongoing in-situ trail observations indicate varied physical distancing compliance on select trails across the United States (Schneider et al., in process). Objectively and accurately documented social distancing compliance could identify COVID 19 risk while informing policy makers about actions needed to maintain open and safe public green spaces for mental and physical health. Yet, there is a lack of tools that can assess and pin-point public area social distancing compliance behaviors. We propose to evaluate low-cost image-based sensor technologies to objectively quantify such social distancing compliance and inform risk analysis and mediation.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2021030
  • Start date: 07/2020
  • Project status: Active
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: COVID-19, Health