We engaged assessors through Research Oxford, as well as community groups and parish councils, to audit green spaces across the county. As part of this, we asked for feedback on the survey and how it could be improved.
- Some questions require some additional information, most notably those focused on the amenities of the greenspace. For example, the car parking and toilet facilities questions require some limit on proximity as many greenspaces have such amenities nearby but not within the greenspace itself. There may not be parking on the site, but free parking on close residential roads.
- Adequacy of seating/benches etc. may be assessed on quality and/or quantity.
- It was difficult to answer confidently which green spaces were accessible by wheelchairs/buggies/mobility scooters. Some areas are accessible for buggies but not for mobility scooters or wheelchairs. For others, a wheelchair/mobility scooter could get into the car park/entrance but they would not be able to go any further due to uneven/damp grass or narrow path entrances etc.
- A good number of the sites had toilets or buildings that looked like they were toilets but were not marked as toilets and/or were locked. It is likely that assessors will have put a variety of answers in these cases.
- Quite a few sites had a clubhouse or other substantial building. This is likely to have been categorised as "other manmade structure" but could be worth including as a discrete option.
- Questions would often benefit from explanatory text -- perhaps implemented as a question mark button could be added that expands a text box with the further explanation.
- To aid the collection of data from different locations, a map of all locations marked by everyone should be visible to every data collector. This would allow the user to prioritise uncharted greenspaces over others.
Conditions of survey
- The options to what the weather was when the greenspace was visited should be more specific: "reasonable" weather could vary from person to person.
- The date and time of when the greenspace was visited should be recorded separately, as the survey could be completed at a later date to when the inspection occurred.
- After dark, it is not possible to make some of the necessary observations: graffiti, litter, evidence of drug use etc.
- Answers to the question on "shelter/shade from trees" are likely to be seasonal.
Mapping and location
- Names of green spaces are often informal or not immediately visible on the ground. Some mapping providers will show them, others may not.
- The size of the greenspace is not indicated at all throughout the survey. Rather than just recording a single grid reference, a shaded region could be drawn.
- Several of the sites the assessors visited were not free to access, so (as instructed) they assessed a different space nearby. A 'screener' question right at the beginning that asks "is this site free to use?" would help clarify this.
- Several of the questions are fairly subjective -- for example, asking about "good view points/vistas/scenic views". This is particularly true for the usability questions such as "enjoying the landscape", "relaxing" etc.
- Almost every question is compulsory: this could be more sophisticated. For example, if "none" is selected as the answer to what water features are present in the greenspace, there is no need to ask what percentage area the water feature covers. If the survey is intended to be used by the general public, then the number of questions needs to be reduced and compulsory answers must be minimised; however, if the survey is aimed at users who are motivated to collect the data, then the number of questions seems appropriate.
- For many sites, several typologies could potentially have been assigned, but the survey only permits one.
Header image of Berlin Tiargarten by Tobias Nordhausen, licensed CC-BY, from Flickr.