Enhancing our understanding of accessibility to sport in Wales through geospatial analysis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the importance of physical activity to address wider issues surrounding various aspects of physical and mental health. Access to facilities has been shown to be an important contributory factor influencing sports participation rates. At the same time organisations such as Sport Wales have, as one of their primary remits, the need to reduce inequalities in take-up by encouraging increased sports participation amongst young women, ethnic minority groups and those living in disadvantaged areas. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to such debates by developing an open-source GIS infrastructure that enables researchers within national sporting bodies to investigate patterns of spatial accessibility to sports facilities in Wales. Whilst there is a growing literature on the use of network-based approaches to measure access to facilities and services, there has been less emphasis on examining inequalities in access to sporting infrastructure and even fewer studies that have incorporated multi-modal approaches to encompass active modes of transport. Recent developments in open-source computer science technologies, when combined with the availability of innovative accessibility approaches based on floating catchment area (FCA) tools, hold promise in this regard. The thesis describes how such tools were developed in close collaboration with researchers in Sport Wales and Welsh Gymnastics, and applied to real world operational tasks, to examine spatial patterns of accessibility. The proposed infrastructure is described in more detail before the use of such approaches are investigated in a range of scenarios using the combination of a relatively new database of sporting facilities and open data sets describing alternative modes of transport. Contributions to knowledge include technical advances concerning the use of open-source, web-based geospatial technologies to compute spatial accessibility across all forms of service provision for different transport opportunities. This includes the development of a user-friendly interface that enables those less experienced in the use of GIS approaches to investigate the potential for FCA approaches to examine the implications of future planning decisions regarding the nature of sporting infrastructure. Feedback was obtained at all stages of the research to ensure the IT framework has been fully evaluated and tuned to the needs of these organisations. Finally, conclusions are drawn on the overall potential for such tools and avenues for further research that could advance such findings are presented.
Date of AwardApr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of South Wales
SponsorsKESSII & Sport Wales
SupervisorMitchel Langford (Supervisor) & Gary Higgs (Supervisor)

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