The New Urbanisms in India research project is informed by qualitative, ethnographic, participatory methodologies. Data was collected in India over an eleven-month fieldwork period (January – November 2015). Principally, there were four methodological components:
a) Ethnographic observations
During the eleven-month fieldwork period the researchers made daily observations of the routines, mobilities and spaces used by residents, visitors and people interacting with the new city development.
b) Qualitative in-depth interviews
A series of qualitative interviews were conducted with participants to explore i) everyday life and family mobility; ii) interaction with public spaces and iii) access to nature and green space. A core group of forty families (adults and children) of varying backgrounds took part in the research. Guided walks were also used to further explore use and interaction with public and natural spaces.
c) Map my Community – mobile app
An interactive, innovative mobile ‘app’ – Map my Community – was designed to explore and map residents and city users (adults and children) mobility within this case study city development. The app collated data on where they go, how they travel and their local experiences. Participants (residents, visitors, workers, commuters, etc.) consent to the app on download and after participation in app based training activities. There were three methodological components:
i) ‘Map my Week’, gathered data on participants’ everyday life, mobility and use of community space. Outdoor movements were tracked for a one week period and at regular intervals participants were prompted to take part in short surveys to ask where they are, who they are with and how they got there. This information has been translated back to the designers of these urban spaces.
ii) ‘Explore that Space’, enabled the research team to pre-define specific areas of the urban environment to prompt information from users (i.e. a park, streets or open space). The app polled for a participant’s position (through their device’s GPS), detecting whether they had entered a pre-defined area and then requested the completion of a short survey.
iii) ‘Capture That’, allowed participants to share with researchers their emotional responses to specific features of the built environment. They were able to take photographs and comment on what they like or think needs improving.
d) Community based workshops
A series of community based workshops were held. This enhanced the data set and provided a forum for community based discussion around the project themes. Residents were invited to workshop events via local advertising and the use of the mobile app. Local stakeholders, planners and policy makers were also invited to stimulate conversation between residents and the designers and builders of these new environments.