National Natural Facilities Database: Sport Wales

Via an extensive research and data gathering exercise KKP built an interactive national natural facilities database for Sport Wales (published 2014) updating the system last revised in 2007. It engendered working with 54 outdoor sports, all 22 local authorities in Wales, the three national parks and a range of specialist organisations. Its primary purpose is to inform initiatives and policy related to recreation, tourism and spatial planning plus monitoring gains and losses of recreational sites and when responding to planning enquiries.

We accumulated detail about 3,500+ sites almost doubling the size of the previous database.  In the process, the volume of sites/records rose from c. 2,000 (not all verified) in the original database to 3,519 verified records in the updated version; despite the requirement to remove inaccurate and unverified data. It now holds comprehensive information on natural outdoor sites in Wales used for land, water and air-based recreation encompassing a diverse range of sporting activities from canoeing and windsurfing to fell running and caving.

The exhaustive research process necessitated making full use of information obtained from co-operating bodies while working much harder to secure correct data in appropriate formats from others. It drew heavily on secondarily verified web based sources; new information was cross-referenced with existing records to clean and update data. Framework detail with regard to type of activity, access limitations, activity provider, factors such as water type (lake, river, estuary or sea), ownership, grid references and protected status was all collected.

MapInfo geographic information system maps were used to highlight the spread, concentration (and absence) of certain activities/venue types. Data was also transferred to an interactive package illustrating how Sport Wales could present information as a public facing utility.

KKP’s team was highly sensitive to issues of confidentiality with regard, for example, to permissive use sites, sites with safety issues and venues for which demand simply outstrips supply or where organisations are reluctant to publicise locations to non-members.

Sport Wales described the database as being ‘as comprehensive as it was possible to make it’ and was ‘particularly pleased with the inclusion of additional activities not specified in the original brief.’ It praised the ‘thorough way in which the project was conducted’ confirming that ‘the format in which it is presented makes it very easy to use’. It concluded by saying that ‘the database was at the heart of the project and we are extremely happy with the finished product’ noting that KKP had not only ‘gone beyond the project remit… but had also made every effort to ensure that the core data was collected’.

Click this  link to see how the geographic information system for the Sport Wales database works.

Contact: janet.reed@kkp.co.uk