HSE Students Analysed Moscow Parks’ Performance
What should Moscow parks be like – multi-functional public spaces or places where locals can go for a walk? What activities and infrastructure do parks lack and what should be changed in how they operate? HSE students tried to address these issues as they presented their ‘Park and Visitor’ survey on February 28, 2017, at Mosgorpark (Moscow city park authority).
Seven students from six HSE programmes (public administration, philology, management, psychology, business informatics, and Asian studies) worked on the study, which took place from October 2016 to February 2017. The authors looked at 21 Moscow parks under Mosgorpark’s authority.
The main goal was to collect visitors’ opinions on the quality of the capital’s parks and to develop a profile of the average park visitor.
The study included preparing a complex survey questionnaire, surveying park visitors, and processing the survey results. The three project teams worked in seven parks each and surveyed over 800 visitors.
The final presentation was given at Mosgorpark and attracted staff from the PR and advertising departments, as well as PR, marketing, and event management staff from the parks surveyed.
The study identified general trends as mentioned by visitors in most of the parks surveyed. 80% of respondents said they could not recall any serious violations of law or breaches of the peace recently, and are satisfied with the security and illumination in the parks; over 75% of respondents approve of events and festivals in the parks and add that some parks could benefit from more events and public entertainment; over 90% said they have noticed positive changes in the parks’ condition, although they identify some problems relating to people who walk their pets in the park. Over 30% avoid visiting park food courts and cafes due to high prices; 45% go to cafes but admit that they are overpriced. The visitors’ profile in remote and local parks consists mostly of retired people and parents with children. Residents pursuing a healthy lifestyle have also added to the parks’ visiting rates recently, since they use the parks as sports and running venues.
Issues relating to spatial development and creating a healthy and clean urban environment are the focus of the Moscow government’s agenda today
‘The study showed how varied and interesting Moscow’s parks are today. We were impressed by the huge numbers of visitors (we saw people enjoying walks in the parks even in extremely cold or dank weather), as well as by Mosgorpark’s attitude towards security and understanding of the need to maintain the necessary infrastructure, such as illumination, provide information on upcoming events, ensure access to high-quality sports facilities etc. It is important that Mosgorpark keeps working to create a comfortable environment for park visitors and organizes events aimed at motivating residents to spend their free time in the parks and pursue a healthy lifestyle’, said German Klimenko, project participant (undergraduate programme in Public Administration at the Faculty of Social Sciences).
‘Moscow parks have changed a lot in recent years, and have become a favorite place for city residents to spend their leisure time. We are glad that this independent study confirmed this positive change. At the same time, we received interesting data on certain parks, which we’ll try to incorporate into our future work’, said Tatiana Samonina, head of PR department at Mosgorpark.
‘Issues relating to spatial development and creating a healthy and clean urban environment are the focus of the Moscow government’s agenda today. The participants of this student project looked at the parks impartially, identified whether residents and visitors are satisfied with the parks’ operations, generalized their data, and prepared recommendations on further work related to the parks’, said Evgenij Plisetskij, project curator at the Department for Spatial Development and Regional Studies and Director of the HSE Institute of Regional Studies and Urban Planning.
‘We found the student project an interesting experience of organizing this kind of student involvement at HSE. We are grateful to Mosgorpark for the opportunity for our students to implement such a complicated and important project’, said Olga Khoreva, project supervisor and Deputy Head of the Department for Spatial Development and Regional Studies at the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences.