Using the Public Life Tools
Surveys + Tools
What follows is an overview on how to carry out surveys of public spaces and the public life that takes place in them. For more information, download the complete guide in the righthand column.
A public life survey is the study of the physical and social elements of a place. It can encompass many forms of data collection, from mapping benches to counting cyclists to conducting interviews. The "tools" we refer to are the research methods developed by Jan Gehl, the Gehl practice, and/or Gehl Institute. These are the methods of mapping benches, counting cyclists, conducting interviews, etc.
The tools only tell us part of the story about a space; they must be complemented by local knowledge that can only be accessed through robust community engagement and working closely with community partners. Sometimes, the most valuable information you gather in a public life survey is something you observe, or a conversation you have, that simply comes out of spending hours at a time in a space.
We hope you find these steps useful! If you have any feedback, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org