Note: Content adapted from the Work Group for Community Health and Development: Community Tool Box’s “Windshield and Walking Surveys.”
Windshield and walking surveys are useful ways to assess specific aspects of a community or neighborhood and help give you a sense of the community.
Conduct your survey at the time that works best for your schedule, but keep in mind that to truly understand the people who live within the community (or neighborhood), you may wish to do the survey more than once, and at different times of the day or different days of the week. For the purposes of this course, you are not required to do the survey more than once. Windshield Survey Template and Instructions.
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Please be mindful of your personal safety. If there is a known issue with hostility between specific groups, it may not be safe for some people to survey particular neighborhoods. Do not knowingly put yourself in harm’s way.
Get familiar with the survey questions and know what you will be looking for.
Use a checklist to be sure you have covered all the questions and observed all the areas you want to.
Be as inconspicuous as possible. Not only do people act differently when they know they are being observed, they may also become suspicious or hostile.
Be sure you carry identification.
Take notes along the way. You can also take photos with a camera or cell phone to help you remember what you have seen.
Always pay attention to your safety. Be aware of the neighborhood and the situation. Windshield Survey Template and Instructions
Use the spaces between the questions below for your notes. You can write more complete observations once you return home.
Housing: What is the age and condition of housing in the community or neighborhood? Are the houses and apartments kept up, or are they run-down and in need of repair? Are the yards neat or overgrown? Windshield Survey Template and Instructions
Other Buildings: Are other buildings mostly or fully occupied? Are public and commercial buildings accessible by people with disabilities? Windshield Survey Template and Instructions
Parks and Public Spaces: Are parks and other public spaces well maintained? Are they used by a variety of people? Are there sports facilities such as baseball fields, basketball courts, and soccer fields?