Santa Clara County Parks Success Story

One of the goals of Santa Clara County Parks is “to provide access to outstanding recreational opportunities, a rich cultural-historical legacy, and an expansive regional trail system for all to enjoy.” Avenza Maps is proud to have been selected as a tool to help the County accomplish this goal. Over 52,000 acres of land are covered by 29 parks whose maps are now accessible through Avenza Maps QR codes posted on trailheads and in trail centers. This improved accessibility makes activities like Pix-in-parks and learning about the Chitactac indigenous history in the region easier and more interactive than ever. 

We spoke to Seth Hiatt, a GIS Analyst for the Santa Clara Department of Parks  & Recreation, to understand better how they’ve implemented QR codes for their maps. 

The mission of the Santa Clara County Parks & Recreation Department is to “Provide, protect and preserve regional parklands for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” Seth tells us. “Although there are a variety of apps that can show someone their GPS location within our parks, with Avenza Maps, visitors have the confidence, accuracy, and richness of our authoritative maps.”

Calero Map

Not only are recreational users using Avenza Maps when they visit Santa Clara parks, but the staff also use the app to document and communicate locations of interest, including those related to safety and natural resources. 

Seth is a seasoned Avenza Maps user himself.

“I heard about Avenza Maps from GIS colleagues when I was working in the Geography Department at San Francisco State University. I would sometimes recommend the app to students doing field work for their research. When I came to Santa Clara County Parks, I immediately wanted to start using it for our guide maps.”

Recommending Avenza Maps has been something that the Santa Clara Department of Parks & Recreation has been doing for a while, but Seth tells us, “there is some mental effort required by park visitors to learn about the application and how to acquire the correct map. With a well-placed QR code, a park visitor can sense the code’s purpose, download the app, get the most current map, and happily move down the trail.” 

One of the goals of the QR Code Project is to reduce the environmental impact of paper maps, and Seth agrees. “Paper maps and brochures can produce a lot of waste and are slower to update than digital maps,” he says. “This more modern approach gives users an up-to-date map with less to recycle/throw out.  With a better sense of where they are, park visitors will be able to make route choices more easily. We also can provide people with destination locations for geocaching or scavenger hunts, something we do with our Pix-In-Parks challenge.” 

Santa Clara Department of Parks & Recreation implemented the QR codes in the summer of 2022 and has received lots of positive feedback from users. The park staff “appreciate having access to the QR codes themselves.  A ranger at our off-road motorcycle park just emailed me this morning saying, ‘The Avenza map stickers have been a hit for our riders.” He tells us. “QR codes seem like the obvious choice due to their simplicity, efficiency, and popularity.”

Seth hopes that in the future, dynamic elements can be offered on maps to allow issue reporting, event locations, emergency location reporting and virtual tour routing. Goals for the future for Santa Clara County focus on continually finding new ways to give users the most positive experience when visiting a Santa Clara County park. 

We would like to thank the Santa Clara Department of Parks & Recreation and Seth Hiatt for being one of our early adopters of the QR Code Program. If you are interested in learning more about how Avenza Maps QR codes can benefit your organization, please fill out this form, and we will be in touch.