Defining the problem, need or opportunity your Innovating Streets project will address is critical for establishing the rationale for your project and for engaging and communicating with stakeholders.
It will also help in planning your monitoring and evaluation of your project. For example, if your project seeks safer streets through lower traffic speed, then traffic speed will be an appropriate outcome measure. Innovative street projects are often about placemaking, enhancing the effective use of space and interaction between people. These objectives indicate other outcomes measures, for example, space occupancy, pedestrian volume, and the number and type of interactions.
Problem: high traffic speeds and poorly designed space is making an urban street unwelcoming, causing lower numbers of pedestrians and people on bikes.
Measures: vehicle speeds, vehicle volumes, pedestrian & cyclist numbers, perception of safety; the length of time people dwell in the street and retail spend may be appropriate measures if your project is in a town centre.
Your Innovating Streets project should have clearly stated goals and objectives that relate to the problem, need or opportunity addressed.
Goals are high level statements of what your project will achieve while objectives are specific statements of how your project will achieve its goals (e.g. outputs, deliverables). Well-constructed objectives will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART) – and will also help you to explain your project to other people.
All Innovating Streets projects will face constraints and it is important that your objectives are feasible and achievable. When working on innovative streets projects, it is also possible that solutions, and therefore your objectives, may not be immediately clear. In such cases, projects may develop through cycles of planning, trialling, further planning, and so on. The approach may shift from an authoritative “this is what we want to achieve and why” to experimental “we don’t know exactly how, come help everyone find out”.
Innovating Streets is also about trying new things and doing things differently. When working this way, projects may not always be as successful as we hoped or may have unexpected impacts. However, such projects provide valuable opportunities for learning and for developing future practice. Understanding why a project didn’t achieve its intended results may therefore be just as important as being able to demonstrate success.
Developing a project logic model is useful during project planning as it requires you to specify how and why your project is expected to address the targeted problem, need, or opportunity. That is, your model will set out the ‘logic’ of what your project will do and why, and what outcomes will be achieved. The process of developing your logic model can help to identify where further planning or revision to your thinking is needed. Your model can also support stakeholder engagement and communication by providing a simple, visual description of your project.
A project logic model will generally show the inputs and activities of your project, the outputs/deliverables produced, and expected outcomes and impact. The model should also establish the expected order and timing of outcomes and impact. For example, a project designed to increase walking and cycling might first increase the perceived safety of the street which in turn leads to an increase in cycling and walking. An increase in cycling and walking might eventually improve health outcomes, however, you would not expect to see this immediately.
Useful links in the Resources page will take you to guides for developing and using project logic models in project and evaluation planning.
A good structure to use to develop and test your project’s intervention logic is the ‘Five Whys’ test (see below. If you can’t answer some of the later ‘Whys’, or the answers feel a bit shaky, this is a good flag for revisiting your project design and plan.
Council: “We want to put some trees and paint and planter boxes in our town centre’s main street to improve amenity and local shopping, also because we have a climate change strategy.”
Intelligent layperson: “Why?” [See questions and answers below.]