Documenting Use of Public Space in Real-time

Video Clip from MIT’s Sense and The City Project (2012)  Source: MIT Senseable City Lab

Capturing the movement, location, and activities of pedestrians can be helpful when assessing the effectiveness of public space and facilitate the management of it. William Whyte’s Street Life Project, one of the most influential public life studies, is a great example of the insight that can be achieved when this type of data is gathered and analyzed. It also illustrates the tedious and time consuming nature of the work. This laborious effort is the main reason most design professionals and managers of public spaces rarely have the luxury of conducting comprehensive post occupancy surveys of their work and/or spaces they manage. Too often our understanding of these places is comprised of ad hoc observations and long-term trial and error. As result, existing and future spaces needlessly can suffer from uninformed design decisions.

Pedestrian data is the foundation of public life studies. Various technologies are making is easier to capture this type of data and in many cases in real-time. These include digital video, wireless networks, mobile phone networks, and  infrared cameras. When considering these technologies pedestrian privacy is important. Like in previous public life studies, all data gathered should be anonymized in order to maintain an individual’s privacy. This can be done while maintaining the usefulness of the data captured.

Continue reading

Advertisements