Tracking Placemaking in Public Spaces
PPS was founded in 1975 to expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, who pioneered observations techniques. Since then, PPS has worked in more than 3,000 communities. We have always been using various techniques to analyze public spaces: taking pictures, observing, tracking and tracing how people move, mapping the behavior and gender/age groups. We have to rely on volunteers to do consistent observations since this type of work requires a lot of hours.
In the Philadelphia City Hall Courtyard project, which was made possible by the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grant, we used the Mapillary app to create baseline views of the space and to track changes and improvements along the project. After the upgrades to the public space were implemented, we used the Mapillary app again to analyze how the site was working for people.
Philadelphia City Hall Courtyard after the placemaking project
Mapillary allows PPS to instantly share interim public space views within our team and supplement images with the map. It is especially useful since we work nationwide and not everyone from our office can go on a site visit. We have been also using a link to a Mapillary map to share with our partners and amenities providers. For example, when we were considering installing solar-powered benches with charging stations in Atlanta, sending a Mapillary link to the manufacturer directly enabled us to make a decision on where to place the benches much faster.
Mapillary is a very easy yet powerful app every urbanist should have on their phone. The more public spaces we can map and document, the stronger a case for preserving them for people we can make. I also look forward to seeing any evolving new features, it will be very cool to automatically count benches or trash cans or to have an algorithm that recognizes the elements of great public spaces.
If you'd like to discuss how you can use Mapillary for tracking changes in public places, get in touch with us.