Skip to content


Repository files navigation

Public Life Data Protocol

Illustration of a city block in plan view

The Public Life Data Protocol (PLDP) describes a set of metrics that are important to the understanding of public life—people moving and staying in public space—and aims to establish a common format for the collection and storage of such data. Used in conjunction with the Public Life Data Tools or other observational methods for collecting data about people in public space, the Protocol provides the structure for the data you collect. Learn more.

Gehl Institute and its partners—Gehl, the practice, the Municipality of Copenhagen, the City of San Francisco, and with support and input from Seattle DOT—have together developed and launched the Public Life Data Protocol.

See our open source announcement and read more about our history.

How to Use the Protocol

The PLDP provides a standard way of documenting the data collected through public life surveys. Therefore, the first step is to conduct a survey.

Conduct a Survey

Public Life Surveys can be used to measure social and physical elements of public life. We've created tools to help you measure elements such as: people moving, social space, and building facade activation. You'll find templates for 9 different surveys in Survey Templates.

Guides (in English and Spanish) for conducting a survey can be found in Survey Guides.

CommonSpace App by Sidewalk Labs

Sidewalk Labs built a prototype Andrioid and iOS app, which is open source, to make public life data collection easier. See the CommonSpace GitHub repository for more information.

Compile Your Data

The PLDP provides guidance for compiling your data in a standard format so that it can be compared with other datasets. You can find spreadsheet templates and detailed instructions in Public Life Data Protocol.

Share Your Results

We're compiling a list of datasets from the PLDP. You can study and learn from others or contribute your results:

Contributing and Using

We welcome contributions to the project, please see the for more details.

If you're new to GitHub and feel more comfortable emailing, you can reach us at:

This project uses the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license with the following attribution text:

The Public Life Data Protocol was jointly developed by Gehl Institute, Gehl, the City of Copenhagen, The City of San Francisco, and Seattle Department of Transportation.

Code of Conduct

This project uses the Contributor Covenant Code of Conduct.