Planning your project and planning your evaluation go together.
You should begin planning your monitoring and evaluation in parallel with your project. Only thinking about evaluation once you are underway, or even once your project has been delivered, can result in a poorly designed evaluation that fails to provide relevant, useful, or timely information.
Like most other things with an Innovating Streets project, the key to good monitoring and evaluation is a clearly defined problem. The problem needs to be clear from the start, so the project rationale can be set out. If the project is seeking safer streets through lower traffic speed, and this is critical to the success of the project, then measuring traffic speed is important.
However, innovative street projects are often about placemaking, people using space more effectively, and interaction between people. Capturing space occupancy, pedestrian counts and interactions between people are examples of relevant measures, for such projects. For example:
Problem: high traffic speeds and poorly designed space is making an urban street unwelcoming, causing lower numbers of pedestrians and people on bikes.
Things to monitor: vehicle speeds, vehicle volumes, pedestrian & cyclists numbers, perception of safety, and if in a town centre you could consider things like spend data from local shops and the length of time people dwell in the street.
Evaluation is used to make judgements about a project or programme. It is important to clearly define what success will look like in the context of both the project and the wider linked strategy [KM5] being evaluated. Defining success comes in two parts:
Defining criteria and performance standards is critical in planning any evaluation as these are central to identifying the data that will need to be collected in the evaluation.
Evaluation varies in size and complexity and your evaluation should be sized appropriately to your project and other considerations. A rule of thumb often used is that around 5-10% of your total project resourcing should be allocated to evaluation.
Most importantly, regardless of the size, evaluation should always be designed to meet the needs of the people who will end up using the data. Your communications team will be making heavy use of project data (see Communicating during delivery) so ensure their information needs are being met.
Evaluation is often only thought about to address questions about effectiveness, such as whether project objectives were achieved. However, evaluation plays important and distinct roles throughout the project cycle; in fact, at any time significant decisions need to be made or when progress and performance need to be understood.
A well-designed project theory will generally show movement through a series of linked outcomes that occur over time (eg Outcome A leads to Outcome B leads to Outcome C). For example, an innovative street project designed to increase walking and cycling might work by initially increasing the perceived safety of the street, which in turn leads to an increase in cycling and walking.