Decision support for parks and protected areas: Leveraging big data to estimate visitation & examine visitor behavior


Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


CGIS Knafel K354

The CGA hosts the Harvard Geography Colloquium in which we invite leading academics to present cutting edge geographic research.

Tourism practitioners have long sought robust protected area visitation estimates. US federal agencies charged with managing protected areas have often leveraged unstandardized methods to generate estimates, leading to inconsistent results. Newly-available digital big data offer more consistent alternatives for tracking visitation across protected areas. Specifically, research into the use of social media to improve visitation estimates has gained traction over the past half-decade. This talk contributes to the trend by exploring the viability of Panoramio and Flickr geotagged social media data to improve estimation within US National Park Service (NPS) boundaries. In addition to assessing the explanatory power of these social media data, site-specific attributes such as origin and destination visitor data to NPS units are evaluated as they relate to geotagged posts and visitation. These site-specific attributes were initially derived from the parks and protected lands database. This talk will then detail a Bayesian spatiotemporal modeling approach developed for visitation prediction within non-NPS protected lands that allow visitation. The goal of the talk is to support the notion that social media data can help land managers achieve more robust, efficient, and accurate visitation estimates.

About the Speaker
Jason Matney is a geospatial analyst with experience in Bayesian statistical modeling, building web GIS applications, and analyzing remote sensing data. He is a Ph.D. candidate within the Center for Geospatial Analytics at North Carolina State University.