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What are windshield and walking surveys?

___Windshield surveys are systematic observations made from a moving vehicle

___Walking surveys are systematic observations made on foot

Why would you conduct windshield or walking surveys?

___Windshield or walking surveys give an objective view of the community

___They can be adapted to community-based participatory research, inviting community participation

___They may allow you to see assets that community members take for granted or don’t see

___They can be the easiest and quickest way to get an overview of the entire community

___They allow clear comparisons among different parts of a community

___They can be very useful in understanding specific aspects of a community

___They give you a “feel” for the community

When should you conduct windshield or walking surveys?

___When you conduct a survey depends on your purpose in doing so

___If the information you’re gathering is geographic or physical – where things are located, what housing is like – then the survey can be conducted any time

___If you want to understand how people use the community, you have to conduct your survey at times – perhaps a number of different times – when they’re likely to be engaged in the activities you’re interested in

___You may have to do a number of surveys at different times of the day, week, and/or year to find out what you want to know

Who should conduct windshield and walking surveys?

___A small urban neighborhood or rural village might be adequately surveyed in one day by a single person

___A large city might require several days by several teams of observers

___If you’re engaged in participatory research, you might organize observers in teams, each of which has representatives of different ages, cultures, ethnicities, income levels, community sectors (business, government, health and community services), etc.

___Consider safety when assigning particular people to particular neighborhoods, and when deciding whether individuals or teams should conduct the survey

How do you conduct windshield and walking surveys?

General guidelines for both windshield and walking surveys

___Determine who will conduct the survey

___Decide on the questions you want your survey to answer

___Decide on the areas you’ll include in your survey

___Decide when you’ll conduct your survey

___Train the people who are going to conduct the survey in the following strategies:  

  • Get well acquainted with your questions, the purpose of the survey, and what you’re looking for
  • Make and use a checklist to ensure that you address all of your questions, and observe all the areas you want to
  • Try to be unobtrusive
  • Carry identification
  • Take notes as you go along
  • If you’re working in teams, assign roles  
  • Discuss your findings as you go  
  • Pay attention to safety  

___What to examine in a general community assessment survey:

  • Housing
  • Other buildings
  • Public spaces
  • Parks
  • Culture and entertainment
  • Streetscape
  • Street use
  • Commercial activity
  • Signs
  • Industry
  • Land use
  • Infrastructure
  • Public transportation
  • Traffic
  • Environmental quality
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Faith communities
  • Health services
  • Community and public services
  • Community safety
  • Public schools
  • Higher education
  • Political activity
  • Community organizations
  • Media
  • Differences among neighborhoods or areas of the community
  • The “feel” of the community

Guidelines for a windshield survey

___Use a map

___If you can, try to use a team of at least two

___Drive at a moderate speed, and avoid unexpected actions

___Drive both on major and minor streets, particularly in residential neighborhoods

___Pull over at regular intervals to make and compare notes

___Try to be inconspicuous

Guidelines for a walking survey

___Study a map beforehand, or do a drive-through so you’ll know where you’re going

___Again, it can be helpful to work in teams

___If you want to experience the community, take part in everyday activities

___Go inside public buildings and cultural institutions

___Sit down in a quiet place to take notes

___Sometimes, the best survey can be a combination of walking and driving

___Analyze what you’ve seen and decide how to use the information