Executive Summary

Our Executive Summary

Worcester has over 60 parks and green spaces throughout the city covering over 1,000 acres of land (City parks, 2017). Rick Miller and Colin Novick, Executive Director of the Greater Worcester Land Trust, began planning the concept of an urban trail in 2001 in order to connect all of these green spaces. By 2014 they completed a map of the 14 mile trail and a year later the Park Spirit of Worcester Inc. began allocating funds for the project known as the East-West Trail (Spirit, 2016). The trail spans the entire city starting in the Cascades and ends at Lake Quinsigamond.

The Park Spirit of Worcester Inc. realized that the trail was not being utilized to its potential and suggested the main reason for the underutilization was that Worcester residents were not aware of the trail. We created a mobile web application in order to help Park Spirit continue their mission:

“to protect, to promote, to enhance, and to advocate for Worcester City Parks for all individuals to enjoy these public resources”

The overall goal of this project was to work with the Park Spirit of Worcester Inc. to enhance the overall trail experience for Worcester residents of all ages thereby increasing utilization of the East-West Trail.

Methodology

To meet the project goal, we developed the following objectives:

  1. Asses what Worcester residents want in green spaces
  2. Estimate Worcester residents’ awareness of the East-West Trail
  3. Compile an inventory of points of interest along the East-West Trail
  4. Asses the current conditions of the green spaces that comprise the East-West Trail
  5. Determine the most appropriate technology to enhance trail user’s experience
  6. Develop an interactive electronic mobile experience for trail users
  7. Develop sustainable ways for Park Spirit to successfully market the East-West Trail

 

To successfully promote the East-West Trail we used focus groups, interviews, surveys, and participatory research. Our first two objectives led to early findings that Worcester residents are aware of parks and trails in Worcester but are not aware of the East-West Trail.

Graph

We also found that if parks and trails had certain amenities, residents would be more likely to use them.

Graph 2

During our participatory research we evaluated the trail as well as the 20 parks along it, see Appendix 6 for the criterion used for the evaluations. Along with the evaluations, a list of points of interest, based off of relevance to a trail user, was created. These points of interest were then implemented in the mobile application created in Adobe Muse. Upon further interviews and research we found sustainable ways for Park Spirit to successful marketing of the East-West Trail, which led to the development of a campaign targeting Worcester residents’ awareness of the East-West Trail.

The Awareness Campaign

Through our research we developed the awareness campaign comprised of the following seven components.

Expansion of the Park Spirit Website

The Park Spirit of Worcester Inc.’s website was created using the Adobe Muse software and contained five main pages: “Home”, “About Us”, “The East-West Trail”, “Bancroft Tower”, “Worcester’s Parks”. We added a sixth main page, “Contact Us”. The “Contact Us” section allows users to communicate issues along the trail and give feedback to Park Spirit easily.

Web1

 

Furthermore, we expanded their “Worcester’s Parks” section to include a biographical page about each of the 60 parks in Worcester. The expansion of Park Spirit’s website made the new web application and the pre-existing website uniform and easier to use.

Development of a Mobile Web Application

Using the Muse software we created a mobile web application under the “The East-West Trail” section of Park Spirit’s website. This web application contains four main pages: “The East-West Trail”, “Let’s Hike”, “About the Parks”, and “The Hike the Heart Challenge”.

Web 2

Based on our research, we found that 85% and 70% of responses to our survey stated that electronic maps and an interactive challenge, respectively, would make them more likely to use city green spaces. The “Let’s Hike” page contains Google Maps filled with different points of interest along the trail, GPS tracking, and interactive physical challenge.

Web 3

“The Hike the Heart Challenge” page contains another set of Google Maps containing another physical challenge that Park Spirit hosts every year. Finally the “About the Parks” page contains information about the green spaces along the East-West Trail similar to the information that is in the “Worcester’s Parks” page in the Expansion of the Park Spirit Website.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 4.09.23 PM

The East-West Trail Brochure

We designed and distributed a trifold brochure to serve as both an informative and incentivizing medium for publicizing the uniqueness of the East-West Trail. The brochure also contains a map of the trail that spans the three inside panels so it can be used as a paper trail map for trail users. Based on our survey 83% of respondents said they would like a paper copy of a map.

A Promotional Video for the East-West Trail

We developed a promotional video for the East-West Trail that provides another method of publicity for the trail. The three minute video is comprised of live-action footage of residents hiking at different points along the trail and highlights a variety of the twenty green spaces that the trail spans.

An Annual Egg Hunt at Elm Park

In collaboration with Big Brother Big Sister on behalf of the Park Spirit of Worcester Inc. we held an egg hunt in a section of Elm Park. We filled 200 eggs with candy and facts about the East-West Trail and Worcester’s Parks and had over 40 members of Big Brother Big Sister take part in the hunt.

Backpack Mail

We sent a promotional flyer about the East-West Trail to nine elementary schools along the trail. In total 3,500 copies were sent to the nine schools for students to take home. Also, Mark Berthiaume, the Student Assignment Officer at the Worcester Parent Information Center, sent an email containing the flyer to all 34 elementary school in Worcester.

Media Content Archive

Throughout this project we have collected many photographs and videos at the different green spaces throughout out Worcester. We have created an archive with all of the media we collected and organized the media based on the green space in which it was taken. We have also given the Park Spirit of Worcester Inc. a copy to use for further promotion of the trail.

Recommendations

Based on our research and awareness campaign, we compiled a list of recommendations to assist Park Spirit in accomplishing the goal of enhancing the overall trail experience for Worcester residents of all ages thereby increasing the utilization of the East-West Trail:

 

We recommend Park Spirit continue networking with Worcester’s various organizations and businesses.

Throughout the course of the project the team has established connections with Worcester’s Parks Department, Discover Central Massachusetts, Big Brother Big Sister of Worcester, and nine Worcester Public Elementary Schools, which are highlighted in Appendix 9. All of these organizations are interested in continuing to work with Park Spirit of Worcester Inc. on continuing to publicize and be a part of events hosted on the East-West Trail.

 

We recommend Park Spirit continue holding and creating trademark events along the East-West Trail

After the success of the egg hunt and the Earth Day Clean Up that Park Spirit holds we recommend Park Spirit continue holding these events annually and expanding their audience. An effective trademarking event will help build the foundation for the East-West Trail to become a household brand.

 

We recommend Park Spirit look into the development of a recognizable brand icon for the East-West Trail

The current logo for the East-West Trail is a successful trail marker but does not draw the attention to the bigger picture of what the East-West Trail is. We recommend that Park Spirit continue work on developing an identifiable logo.

 

We recommend Park Spirit consider the development of handicap version of the trail

Part of Park Spirit’s goal is to enhance the trail experience for Worcester residents of all ages. Since the East-West Trail is an urban hiking trail that utilizes city streets and sidewalks it is possible for those with mobile restrictions to participate. Although those with mobile restrictions would not get the entire hiking experience, they can still benefit from the trail and green spaces. Therefore, we recommend that Park Spirit considers the development of a handicap version of the trail and upload a new Google Map to the web application.

Web 4

We recommend Park Spirit consider a revision of the Western Section of the East-West Trail

The mile and a quarter section along Mill Street is not only hard on the feet but also not aesthetically pleasing as it runs through the Worcester’s more commercial section. We recommend that Park Spirit seek an alternate route, potentially through God’s Acres, to reinvigorate this section of the East-West Trail.

 

We recommend Park Spirit use the media archive for weekly social media posts

Currently Park Spirit has social media outlets in Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all of which can be connected to share and post the same media. We recommend that Park Spirit look into creating a weekly post across these forums that is unique to their purpose and encourages followers to go out an explore Worcester’s various green spaces.

 

If implemented, we believe the above recommendations will help Park Spirit develop a sustainable and successful brand and network for the East-West Trail. We hope the mobile application, Easter egg hunt and paper map will increase utilization of the East-West Trail and enhanced the experience for trail users.