Like any public service, park managers need to take a cost-effective and efficient approach to managing and maintaining their parks. In order to make evidence based decisions a parks service needs to understand the usage profile of their sites including the number, timing and purpose of visits.  This information is very difficult to obtain using traditional methods, especially if data is required over all times of day, times of week and times of year.

WiseParks is one of 5 projects within ‘Rethinking Parks’ – a partnership between Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta.

The University of Nottingham will test WiFi sensing as a potential solution to the challenge of understanding parks users and usage. The project will take an iterative approach, testing both sensing hardware and analysis software. The aim is to create more cost effective and privacy aware solutions and guidance for parks managers to use in engagement and parks management. They will work in partnership with Nottingham City Council, with a particular focus on Colwick Park and Highfields Park.

Outputs from WiseParks will address important knowledge gaps in the Parks Service’s understanding of users, and provide information to build:

  • Engagement strategies – key areas of interest at sites will be identified through understanding park users and their movements.
  • Park developments – service gaps will be identified, i.e. provision of food outlets through understanding what park users are doing, and where.
  • Improved maintenance – understanding the levels of usage of park assets will enable proactive maintenance regimes


If you have visited one of our parks and would like to opt-out please contact WISEParks@nottingham.ac.uk including the MAC address of your WiFi device in your message. The information below might be useful to you.

  • What are we doing at Highfields and Colwick?

At each park we are counting the number of Wi-Fi enabled devices which move within range of detectors placed at carefully chosen locations around the parks. Most Wi-Fi enabled devices periodically send out ‘probe requests’ when they are searching for a network. These requests are received by our detectors and contain information including the identity of the hardware sending the request, the ‘MAC address’. We store a disguised version of the MAC address along with the time the probe request signal was received and the strength of the received signal.

  • I would like to opt-out, why do you need my MAC address?

We need your MAC address in order to find your data in our dataset. It will be disguised in the same way as the collected data and used to search our datasets for your data. Without your MAC address we cannot identify your data.

  • How do I find my MAC address?

A useful guide to finding your MAC address can be found here.

WiseParks Final Report

WISEPEAK video – How WiFi counting works: