Made by Richard Dong, atesfaye and mspettel · UNLISTED (SHOWN IN POOLS)

Schenley Park has started a new initiative to bring connectivity to the park. The park will be installing a comprehensive wifi network across it’s grounds to benefit it’s occupants. Our proposal will address the addition of a network of IoT devices to Flagstaff Hill which will help visitors better plan their activities before and during their time in the park.

Created: November 15th, 2019



The City of Pittsburgh and Parks Conservancy fund many park initiatives, such as restoration and improvement projects. Park maintenance workers are employed by the City of Pittsburgh, and we will be working alongside them for the improvement of this section of the park.

The City of Pittsburgh also holds a weekly cinema night June through August, where families can come to watch popular movies on an outdoor screen. Additionally, several music groups perform the same nights as the movies. The Susan G. Komen foundation holds a Race for the Cure run in the park during the month of May. Finally, different local sports teams, such as ultimate frisbee, hold events and practices in the Flagstaff Hill location. Our product will help benefit participants of these events by helping them plan their activities when they arrive. Additionally, our product will help individuals who want to avoid these events and crowds with planning their trips beforehand.

Visitors to the park who might not be aware of what activities to take part in will be able to interact with our project to figure out what will best suit their needs. It will give information and drive suggestions for activities that are appropriate for the current conditions of the grounds and also the events that are taking place.

Location Users:

Flagstaff Hill’s largest feature is a gently sloping hill. Hikers and picnickers come to the park to climb the hill for exercise, fresh air, and a great view. During the evenings, cinema and music concert attendees sit on the hill to watch and listen to the entertainment. During the wintertime, children and teens often use the hill for winter activities such as sledding. These activities are highly dependent on favorable weather and ground conditions. If the hill is too wet it becomes too slippery and muddy and has the potential to injure or ruin a visitor’s day. After an episode of rain, and especially at night, it’s very difficult to judge how muddy an area of the hill until you step foot in the area and feel the ground.

A trail encircles the hill and contains an ample amount of tree cover. During the summertime, visitors like to sit under the shade to read, relax, and sleep. Joggers and bikers like to use the trail and its shade for exercise. Information about the sun’s intensity and shade cover will help visitors determine whether or not they need sunscreen as well as guide on which activities to do.

Data Sources:

We will obtain sensor data from multiple locations around Flagstaff Hill and provide information and suggestions that will significantly improve the park visitors’ experiences. Our sensors will include soil moisture sensors which determine the moisture content and muddiness of the ground. Auditory and proximity sensors will gather information about the crowds and their noise level. Finally, we will use light sensors (photoresistors) to measure which areas provide the best sunshine for sunbathing and shade for staying cool and reading.

The sensor network will be distributed throughout different areas of the park, such as the flat bottom part of the hill, the pavement patch at the top, the slopes of the hill, the hammock/shaded areas and surrounding hiking/running trails. With this data, we can suggest the perfect spots for the activities that our visitors partake.

Prototype Proposal:

We envision an integrated, internet connected product that serves to give users an easily digestible view of what activities and which areas of Flagstaff Hill are best suited for in current conditions.

Moisture, light intensity, and crowdedness data will be interpreted by the system to internally calculate scores for different activities that one could do in the park. For example, if the hill is very muddy at the bottom, but dry and sunny at the top, the algorithm’s output could be a score of 10% for sports and 94% for sunbathing.

These internal percentages will be displayed to users as they enter the park on a large dashboard. The dashboard will have several speedometer-esque displays (one for each scored activity) that will use a motorized needle and variable color background display that allow users to quickly understand how well suited a part of Flagstaff Hill is for each activity.

While this system will be initially designed and tested for use in Flagstaff Hill, it is easy to imagine how this sensing + scoring + displaying mechanism could be scaled across all locations and possible activities in Schenley Park. Trail running, swimming, tennis, or soccer could all be scored activities based on sensor data from nodes placed along trails, fields and courts. Finally, our project has minimal negative impact on other park improvement projects occurring in other areas of the park.

Project Location:

We will place 7 sensor nodes throughout the park at the following locations: flat grassy area (1), CMU entrance/wooded trail (2), wooded clearing (3), hiking trail entrance (4), Phipps Entrance (5), hill slope (5), and hill shaded area (7).

Display Board Mockup:

Here is a drawing of the display board that we plan to build. At the top, we will have light sensor buttons that correspond with an activity. After a user hits one of these buttons, it will display a heatmap with colors corresponding to the suitability for that activity.

We will etch a map of the park onto a piece of wood and punch holes through it for the lights. Finally, a sheet of acrylic will be used to waterproof the entire apparatus.

Sensor Module Mockup:

The following is a picture of the mockup we plan to build. We will use a Particle Argon and connect it with other sensors. The sensors we will use are photoresistor, soil moisture and weather sensor. The soil moisture sensor will be inserted 2 inches into the ground. The entire module is enclosed in a small pencil case size enclosure with waterproof compartment.

Prototyping Timeline:

11/15 - Project proposal

11/18 - Map design and sensor board

11/22 - Printed map, sensor module and enclosure

11/25 - Calibrated map module and enclosure

Bill of Materials:

Sensor Node





Particle Argon



2000mAh LiPo Battery






Soil Moisture Sensor



Weather Sensor (Temp, Humidity, Pressure)






Acrylic Enclosure



Hot Glue






Display Board


This product will enhance both the park’s utility and safety. Currently, there are safety concerns with getting burnt in the sun, or slipping and falling while running. Our product will alert users when these activities are both safe and optimal, allowing them to fully utilize the park in the safest way possible.

Product Vision:

1. Joan is an avid outdoor reader who often comes to the park to read. When she gets to the park, she uses our product to get a suggestion about where to sit down under a tree to read. The suggestion is enhanced by data on noise, shade, and mud levels. Joan now avoids a previous experience when she unknowingly sat in ground that was slightly wet and stained her new jeans with mud.

2. Carl and his family come out for a picnic and want to be on the hill for a great view. Pittsburgh weather was erratic again, and after a morning rain, the sun is out and he forgot the sunscreen. Our product suggests a dry area on the hill that has ample shade. As a result, Carl and his family have a wonderful lunch despite the wild weather.

3. Phil comes to the park for his break. He wants to eat his lunch and relax for the rest of the hour, and he wants to interact with other people. One day he visits the park, and he finds the entire place extremely crowded. Due to all of the noise, he is unable to partake in his usual activities at the park. Our product suggests a recommendation that tells him whether the park is too loud of crowded. As a result, Phil is able to have a great time at the park.

4. Josh and his ultimate frisbee team don’t know whether they should call off practice, because it rained earlier that morning and they don’t know what parts of the hill are dry enough. Josh and his team would rather not have a player injured by slipping on a wet field. Just as Josh is about to cancel practice, he finds our product, which suggests a dry area on the hill that is large enough for the team to practice on. Thus, Josh and his team are able to have their practice and go on to win the state championship.

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Schenley Park has started a new initiative to bring connectivity to the park. The park will be installing a comprehensive wifi network across it’s grounds to benefit it’s occupants. Our proposal will address the addition of a network of IoT devices to Flagstaff Hill which will help visitors better plan their activities before and during their time in the park.