A Data-Driven Approach to ‘Playspace Inequity’

Mapping playgrounds and their conditions can reveal how childhood play opportunities are inequitably distributed within cities.

1 minute read

September 29, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Blue picnic table with attached benches and colorful children's playground in background.

HRTNT Media / Adobe Stock

A data-driven tool maps ‘playspace inequity’ in Philadelphia with the goal of highlighting the neighborhoods where young children lack access to playgrounds, writes Amanda Loudin in Next City. “While the numbers are specific to Philadelphia, KABOOM! provides similar data sets to other cities interested in learning about and addressing playspace inequity.”

Like other issues, understanding playspace inequity starts with data. “Needing an accurate method for data gathering on playspace locations, KABOOM! created what it calls the Playspace Inequity Prioritization Index (PIPI), made up of 21 data points for census tracts within the United States.” The index accounts for the condition of playgrounds as wel as their locations.

In Philadelphia, the scale indicates that “nearly one-third of the city’s census tracts and 40% of early childcare providers do not have access to a playspace.”

As Loudin explains, “Looking ahead, KABOOM! plans to not just identify where new playspaces should go in cities like Philadelphia, but then measure their usage after. Ultimately, KABOOM!’s multi-pronged approach to closing the playspace inequity gap will have lasting impacts on the communities it serves.”

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