The Stationary Activity Mapping tool is a key part of any public life survey. It helps you map what people are doing in a space at a given time, such as sitting on a bench, playing sports, or performing live music. The result is a “snapshot” of activity in your survey area. By evaluating what is already happening in a place, we can begin to identify potential enhancements to public life.
For example, in Washington, DC, Gehl and Public Workshop collaborated to design and build interactive bus stops, or “Superstops.” Stationary Activity Mapping before and after the installations revealed a 100% reduction in secondary seating: instead of sitting on the ground, milk-crates, stoops, or planter edges, residents could now enjoy comfortable, creative places to wait. What’s more, the Superstops attracted people to the space who previously might have just walked by: Stationary Activity Mapping revealed a 20% increase in people spending time around the stops. This data can make a persuasive case to city leaders and potential donors about the importance of community-led design projects that enhance everyday public life.
To use this tool, you will move through the full survey area once each hour, marking where people are spending time, how many people are there, and what they’re doing. You will record activities such as sitting, eating, using electronics, or buying something. You will also estimate each person’s age and gender to build a picture of whether the space is inclusive, welcoming, and accessible to a broad range of people. Additionally, we recommend taking notes of any observations you make during your mapping. It’s important to note if anything out of the ordinary happens.
Our public life tools are free for all to download, use, and remix to meet your project’s needs. If you use this tool, we would love to hear from you!