Strong partnerships, new data and exciting research is a winning combination for Sport and Recreation Spatial
The innovative Sport and Recreation Spatial project led by Dr Rochelle Eime, joint VicHealth Research Practice Fellow (Physical Activity) at the University of Ballarat and Victoria University, marks its first year of operation having achieved its milestones and extending its reach well beyond original expectations. Commencing in 2012, the objective of the Sport and Recreation Spatial was to establish a system for implementing advanced ICT to spatially present State and National data for the sport and recreation industries.
Meeting one of its key milestones in its first year of operation was the launch of the Sport and Recreation Spatial website. The website provides a comprehensive system for dynamically presenting spatial data for all levels of the sport and recreation sector for Victoria, and nationally, including:
- National survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics;
- Exercise Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS) data;
- Victorian sport and recreation facility data;
- Victorian State Sporting Associations participation, coach and official data.
The advanced functionality of the website enables data to be statistically manipulated and mapped to enable a greater understanding of sport and recreational participation across Australia.
The success of this first stage of the project is a reflection of the commitment to the project by its core partners, including the University of Ballarat’s School of Health Sciences, and the Centre for eCommerce and Communications (CeCC), Victoria University, the Australian Sports Commission and VicHealth, Sport and Recreation Victoria and Vicsport. Collaboration on this project has also been received from key organisations in the sports and recreation industry, including the Australian Football League Victoria, Basketball Victoria, Bowls Victoria, Cricket Victoria, Football Federation Victoria, Hockey Victoria, Netball Victoria, Tennis Victoria.
Recent research published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity by members of the Sport and Recreation Spatial team provides evidence of the benefits of sport participation on health and wellbeing. A comprehensive review of data and publications identified the psychological and health benefits of sporting participation for children and adolescents. Importantly this research suggests that sport may contribute to improved psychosocial health above general physical activities, with improved health outcomes associated with team sports. These findings support the current and potential value of the Sport and Recreation Spatial ICT system to facilitate a greater understanding of sports participation at a community, state and national level. The data enables further research to be conducted into the benefits of participation in organised sports
Additional enhancements have also been made to the Sport and Recreation Spatial that add considerable value to this project. Recently, Hugh Delahunty the Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation, authorised the release of the recreational facility data via the Sport and Recreation Spatial website for access by eight Victorian sports. The facility audit was conducted by Sport and Recreation Victoria. Dr Eime commented on this latest advancement: “This allows organisations to view the locations of their sporting facilities, and to obtain information about the facility including types of field surface, facility age and facility condition and to see how facilities and participation rates relates to population demographics and population projections. Never before have sports had access to this integrated data to inform the development of policies and practice relating to participation and facilities.”
The Sport and Recreation Spatial has received positive feedback indicating that the project is meeting and extending industry expectations. National and State Sporting Associations have provided positive commentary about Sport and Recreation Spatial having identified an array of benefits, including:
- the provision of easy access to data;
- data visualization (not normally achievable for sporting organisations-alone);
- identification of trends and gaps in recreation and sporting activities;
- transferability of data for different purposes (such as supporting infrastructure and community development, business cases, projects and presentations).
The project team anticipates expanding on the project’s success during its second year of operation. A range of technical enhancements are already being considered, led by senior technician in CeCC, Paul Feely. “We are hoping to augment already existing features on the website and to add new functionality, including the addition of a popular features request. We also plan to conduct further experimentation to develop new visualisations for the website”. These and other extensions to the project in the coming year will increase the value and usability of Sport and Recreation Spatial leading to further research discoveries and increasing participation in sport for more people, more often.
For further information about this project visit:Sport and Recreation Spatial or contact:
Dr Rochelle Eime, Project leader. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Feely, Senior Programmer, CeCC. Email: email@example.com
Dr Helen Thompson, Director, CeCC. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org