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Observation for Data Collection in Urban Studies and Urban Analysis


Byrne, JA, Observation for Data Collection in Urban Studies and Urban Analysis, Methods in Urban Analysis, Springer, Scott Baum (ed), Singapore, pp. 127-150. ISBN 9789811616761 (2021) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2021 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1007/978-981-16-1677-8_8


Observation can help us better understand urban spaces, places and place-making. This chapter considers how observation can be used as a research method for gathering data to be used in urban analysis. Observation is more than just the act of looking. Observation requires careful and considered assessment of what is happening. The observer does not merely record information—they are also interpreting and analysing what they observe—albeit sometimes subconsciously. Observation can be divided into two main types—structured and naturalistic observation. We examine some of the key steps to be followed when collecting data using observation, referring to Australian and international case examples. There are advantages and disadvantages of observation compared to other methods and we consider some of these, including time, resources and data reliability. We also consider some important ethical issues related to various forms of observation, including deception and criminal activities. The chapter concludes with some thoughts about non-visual observation (e.g., soundscapes) and provides suggestions about how observation might evolve in the future as augmented reality, artificial intelligence and the ‘internet of things’ extend and expand the power of observation. Finally, some ‘take home’ messages are offered.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:methods, research, urban analysis, observation, participant observation
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Urban and regional planning
Research Field:Land use and environmental planning
Objective Division:Construction
Objective Group:Construction planning
Objective Field:Urban planning
UTAS Author:Byrne, JA (Professor Jason Byrne)
ID Code:147831
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2021-11-17
Last Modified:2021-12-06

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