Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

A Framework for Curating Engaging Leisure Walking Experiences

  James Williams (2020 cohort)

Leisure walking is an activity that can encompass a range of rationales for walking, this may include walking for exercise, relaxation, or active travel. To discover new or interesting routes, users may look to use navigation tools, online search, or local knowledge to formulate and plan new leisure walks that they have an interest in. These navigation systems are often built to aid routing between different and unfamiliar locations; however, only limited attempts have investigated such navigation methods beyond that of specific contextual characteristics or point-to-point routing. The limited subjective, contextual, and rich information about leisure walking routes provides the impetus for the research performed as part of this PhD.

The research first investigates how users engage with leisure walking through capturing rich results from a leisure walking behaviour survey and a think aloud verbal protocol study, mapping this alongside expert interviews. A framework for curating leisure walking experiences will then be designed and proposed, based upon the results of the qualitative aspect of the work. Finally, research will investigate the data generated, how this data can be curated, stored, represented, and how a routing algorithm could work, while also considering the richness and scalability of existing data sources. The study will look to provide more contextually relevant, interesting, and engaging leisure walking routes through the framework and tools, which will also support the development of more relevant and useful route recommendation systems for users. The research question of the project is as follows: 

How can a framework for recommending leisure walking experiences be designed from user engagement with walks?

The question above is split into three main aims defining the focus of the study:

  1. Understanding the User. To understand what engagements occur and how these can be captured using technology. And to investigate what type of characteristics users engage with while leisure walking.
  2. Understanding the Data. To establish an understanding of how leisure walking characteristics and the related context can be represented in a leisure walking framework. To investigate existing data sources as to how these can be used as part of route recommendations.
  3. Design and Test. To propose and test a walking route recommendation tool which considers the walking characteristics, the data richness, and the scalability of digital technologies to understand how they can be used to curate engaging leisure walking experiences.