CommonSpace is a map-based data collection mobile application that makes it easier to record observations of human activities in open spaces — a method known as public life studies. Public life studies are used to develop a better understanding of how public spaces serve the needs of people and communities.
*HOW IT WORKS*
People who are interested in conducting a public life study — city planners, designers, community groups, etc — can create a study using a web portal for CommonSpace. A study organizer begins by defining their research question, and then configuring the needed observations into the app.
Then, they recruit surveyors to conduct the study, who are assigned “shifts” in the public space under study. The surveyors spend time in the space and use the CommonSpace mobile app to record data about what they observe at defined intervals to capture a snapshot of public life activity. CommonSpace implements an open data standard known as the Public Life Data Protocol.
Afterwards, study organizers are able to download the data, and are able select a toggle to post their study and publish the underlying data on a public data portal.
*PUBLIC LIFE STUDIES*
Understanding how people use parks, plazas, and neighbourhood spaces enables students, researchers, communities, and governments alike to understand the impact of design and programming on public life. Public life data can support civic action, policy revisions and decision-making that affect how spaces are designed, built, operated and programmed.
However, the complexity of preparing a public life study can be a barrier to understanding how our public spaces work. The objective of CommonSpace is to make it easier to conduct these types of studies. Our hope is to enable all types of people to use public life data in their work, from research to planning to civic engagement.
This app builds on a decades-long tradition of using data to understand how people interact with parks and public spaces in order to improve quality of life. CommonSpace implements the Public Life Data Protocol, a data standard published by Gehl Institute, in partnership with Copenhagen, San Francisco, Seattle and the Gehl practice, to standardize the data collection process, support evaluating the impact of public spaces, and enable new innovations in making cities for and with people.