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 (COVID-19) pandemic. 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 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 six 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. Objectively and accurately documented social distancing compliance could identify COVID-19 risk while informing policymakers about actions needed to maintain open and safe public green spaces for mental and physical health. Yet, there is a lack of tools to assess and pinpoint public area social distancing compliance behaviors. Researchers will 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: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: COVID-19, Health