HERE+NOW use Public Life Street Assessments to give valuable insight and evidence into how people currently use city streets and outdoor spaces that can help inform design decisions or allocation of resources.

These methodologies include on-the-ground user interviews and direct observation of pedestrians and cyclists, feeding in to evidence-based decision-making for street design improvements. The insight provided is based on rigorous data and analysis of each street environment’s movement and place functions and current user experience.  


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HERE+NOW have conducted a series of Public Life Street Assessments of eight important local town centres across Edinburgh - Portobello, Stockbridge, Nicolson St and Clerk St, Bruntsfield/Morningside, Leith Walk/Great Junction St, Gorgie/Dalry, Tollcross and Corstorphine.  In 2017 we also completed a Public Life Street Assessment for George St in central Edinburgh. These street assessments give insight into how the built environment of each town centre is currently functioning in terms of public life, with a particular focus on pedestrian and cyclist user experience.  

To carry out Public Life Street Assessments, direct observation methodologies are used in combination with qualitative semi-structured user interviews, and the expertise and observations of the HERE+NOW research team of landscape architects and urban designers. Together this mixed method approach enables a large amount of useful data and analysis regarding the town centres in terms of their existing public life, user experience, and movement and place functions.  

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The suite of research tools and techniques used by the HERE+NOW team represent current best practice based on methodologies advocated by Gehl Architects amongst others, in addition to the team's in-house expertise and development of a series of analysis tools. Research is carried out in a standardised consistent manner by the team of researchers across multiple locations, at different times of day and on different days of the week to ensure the maximum diversity of usage patterns is captured.

Collection of this data, its analysis and interpretation in terms of both the whole town centre and selected site-specific locations, gives incredible insight into the ways the street or town centre currently functions for users in terms of movement and as a place.  This analysis is used in combination with HERE+NOW's 12 Design Principles for Healthy Public Spaces, which are based on a synthesis of the most pertinent academic literature to date. The output is a report detailing this evidence and the way it can be used to target improvements in these places to create most impact, including a holistic series of design recommendations aimed at creating a place with enhanced conditions for walking and cycling, as well as opportunities for public life.