HERE+NOW use Public Life Street Assessments to give valuable insight and evidence into how people currently use city streets and outdoor spaces.

These methodologies include on-the-ground direct observation and user interviews that can feed in to evidence-based decision-making for their improvement based on rigorous analysis and data of both their movement and place functions and current user experience.  


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HERE+NOW have been conducting 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.  These street assessments give insight into how the built environment of each town centre is currently functioning in terms of public life.  Street Assessments of the first five local town centres are complete and have been presented to The City of Edinburgh Council, with the remaining due for completion in May 2017.

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 five locations in each town centre, at five different times of day (8am, 12pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm) and on three different days of the week (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday) to ensure the maximum diversity of different 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.