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Tool Inventory

CommonSpace - new digital tool for public life studies
CommonSpace - new digital tool for public life studies

Application Area

  • Evaluation and monitoring

Tool Type

  • Mobile app

Target Audience

  • Small cities
  • Medium-sized cities
  • Large cities
  • Metropolitan regions


CommonSpace is a map-based data collection mobile application that makes it easier to record observations of human activities in open spaces — a method known as public life studies. Public life studies are used to develop a better understanding of how public spaces serve the needs of people and communities.

People who are interested in conducting a public life study — city planners, designers, community groups, etc — can create a study using a web portal for CommonSpace. A study organizer begins by defining their research question, and then configuring the needed observations into the app. Then, they recruit surveyors to conduct the study, who are assigned “shifts” in the public space under study. The surveyors spend time in the space and use the CommonSpace mobile app to record data about what they observe at defined intervals to capture a snapshot of public life activity. CommonSpace implements an open data standard known as the Public Life Data Protocol.

Afterwards, study organizers are able to download the data, and are able select a toggle to post their study and publish the underlying data on a public data portal. They prefer to communicate about CommonSpace on our GitHub page. However, you can also reach the Sidewalk Labs team behind CommonSpace by emailing us at  '; // --> .

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Basic Information

August 2019


Sidewalk Labs, Gehl Institute

Thematic Areas