The Neighborhood Socioeconomic Mix tool compares demographic data on who spends time in a public space with demographic data on who lives in its surrounding area. Its intention is to better understand how a public space serves the people who live close by, particularly in areas with demographic diversity.
This information helps planners and designers assess who is benefiting from the public space and whether it should be changed to serve a greater diversity of users.
For this unfinished US-based tool, we used Census data to develop categories of socioeconomic status. Categories were determined using a cluster analysis to identify common groupings of income, education, and race/ethnicity characteristics at the Census tract level. We then compared this data to information obtained through Participant Surveys on who was spending time in public space.
While useful in some respects, we found in our initial experiments that the measurements of diversity have the potential to be superficial due to their reliance on American Community Service (ACS) data and required many assumptions about how neighbors choose to use public space. We have not tested this method in cities outside of the U.S.
This tool does not have a template. If you are interested in using it in the field, we would love to hear from you.