The value of open space and how to measure it was discussed at a public forum in Melbourne last week, facilitated by NH Architecture’s Urban Design Group.
Culture Counts’ Marketing and Client Manager Alison Lasek presented as part of the panel alongside Peter Elliott, Principal, Peter Elliott Architecture and Urban Design; Paul Cassidy, Director, Outer Melbourne, Victorian Planning Authority; and Chris Bracher, Director, My Neighbourhood.
In a short three-minute presentation that provided a starting point for further discussion, Alison Lasek highlighted what we should measure to understand how open space is valued, the easy and cost-effective ways of collecting data, and how the results can be used to feed into decision-making processes.
What to measure
- Users – who is using the place, looking at demographics and visitor numbers
- Behaviour – patterns in visitor behaviour such as peek visitation days and times, busiest parts of the precinct, main entrance/departure points, repeat/unique visitation and dwell times
- Perceptions – quality of the place and the experience, such as ease of access and safety
- Outcomes – benefits derived from the space including civic pride, increased health and wellbeing, and community connectedness
How to measure
Sensors or public Wi-Fi enable the collection of anonymous data emitted from electronic devices to analyse pedestrian activity and behaviour. Survey tools can be used to capture quantitative and qualitative feedback from visitors, communities and traders about the outcomes of their experiences.
How the results can be used
This type of feedback shows the contribution of different places to the overall amenity of a city. It is valuable to local government, development authorities and urban planners who want to make evidence-based planning decisions about where to allocate resources to achieve the greatest value for the community. For example, correlating an outcome such as connection to the community with external data sources such as weather shows how outcomes change under different weather conditions. This information can then inform improvements such as the installation of undercover areas or shaded spots.