Learning to count public life

Ready to count!

Today was day two of the Public Life Public Space survey workshop carried out by Gehl Architects for ITDP, Institute for Transport and Development Policy, and Chennai City Connect in Chennai. The morning started with an introduction by the three Gehl Architects staff – Sia Kirknæs, Lars Gemzøe and Henning Thomsen – to prepare the workshop participants for the first excercises dealing with counting public life.

Lars Gemzøe, Gehl Architects, introducing the theme of the day: counting pedestrians.

Sia Kirknæs, Gehl Architects, explaining some of the challenges faced when counting pedestrians

Counting seems like an achievable task. But to be succesful the public life part of the Public Life Public Space survey requires substantial preparation and planning – getting to know the city and the survey area, choosing the proper locations, time of week and day, and actual position in the streets surveyed. But it also requires the ability to make swift decisions and to be focused and consistent. These and many more skills were trained in todays workshop, where the participants themselves tried to count pedestrians and to note down the basic variables of age and gender – which for the age part can be as challenging as counting pedestrians itself can turn out to be for the unprepared and untrained.

Pedestrian #1 - the counting has begun!

Keeping calm and focused and keeping count!

Comparing counts - but why did we not get to the same result? Counting is not the easiest of tasks it turns out.

Discussing discrepancies and sharing solutions.

Sampling pedestrians age and gender - focus is required, when both genders walk by at the same time in opposite directions and all the data needs to go down on paper!

Surveying staying activities

Comparing notes


  1. Jeremy Jones said:

    This is wonderful thing to see from close up. From the most basic observations can great insights arise. Broadening the scope of planning participation while attempting to improve urban quality — it just doesn’t get much better. The manual itself appears both practical and appealing. What a useful combination!

    • henningthomsen said:

      Thx Jeremy. We had a good and rewarding time in India.

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