Place diaries reveal both positive and negative aspects of city design from various users' points of view.
Benefits & Problems Addressed
Initiate design fixes: Users document design deficiencies such as inadeqaute lighting that can be easily fixed.
Understand nuances in design: For planning, cities can use diary prompts to see what users (residents, workers, visitors) emotionally react to in a place. Fear and joy drive the success/failure of urban design as much as engineering performance standards.
Place diaries as civic engagement: Diaries provide a glimpse in peoples' lives.
Tips & Techniques
Assigned versus unassigned diaries: Cities can assign a diary for a set amount of time to individuals, or place diaries in public places for unsolicited input.
Prompts versus no prompts: For public art & engagement, simple instructions are adequate. For specific planning purposes, cities will need to supply a prompt. For more detailed planning critique, cities will want to also use place audits.
Using technology: Cities can use mounted cameras, phone apps and GPS to record audio & video experiences and insights.
Multiple, varied users: Get a variety of users to record experiences and factor into design.
Hot Buttons: Getting representative samples from a variety of users, off-color entries, results are not strictly scientifically robust.
Examples & Resources
Bench Diary - global