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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Knowledge Pool

Activating opinion survey


Community work,  interviews with residents, development of democracy


In an activating opinion survey citizens are asked about their views and attitudes; at the same time they are encouraged to stand up for their interests and to take part in developing solutions for their surroundings.

This method aims for gaining information on residents’ views, attitudes and perceptions. It is a method that can support security-related urban planning by:

  • Increasing citizen participation in planning processes, thus helping to appropriately addressing perception of (in)security and risks as a part of efforts to increase infrastructural and societal resilience;
  • Helping to determine risk, culture, and ethics aspects in urban environments from a comprehensive point of view;
  • Helping to identify the security culture of the specific city/town/urban environment as one of the social facts that effective security-related urban planning should be based on.

An activating opinion survey can be applied to processes of risk identification for subsequent addressing in urban planning. It also can help to preemptively identify cultural and ethics aspects in planning for secure spaces. The method is in particular suitable for identifying security-related interests and needs (in general and in cultural and ethical terms) of people living in a particular area.


Suitable for

  • finding out the interests and needs of people living in a particular area
  • promoting ordinary people’s self-determined political activity
Expiry of the method

To get a clearer picture of the area where the survey is to be carried out, a preliminary investigation takes place: key individuals and residents are interviewed, material is evaluated and observations are made.

Residents are informed in writing about the actual survey in advance; trained interviewers use an interview skeleton with open questions to do one-to-one interviews. The aim is to identify the residents’ fears, wishes and worries; at the same time they are asked what solutions occur to them, and how interested they would be in taking part in implementing the ideas in question.

The survey is evaluated and the results presented to the residents, with the aim of defining steps toward realization. Interest or action groups are formed with a view to this.

Duration of the event

A few days to several months

  • Interested citizens
  • This method is suitable for large groups
Prerequisite for success
  • Professional accompaniment
Required materials
  • Survey guidelines
Principles, relevant parameters to be considered

In contrast to most conventional surveys, an activating opinion survey is not a one-off event, but the kick-off to a fairly long-term process; so it involves a good deal of organization in advance and subsequent work.
An activating opinion survey can also be combined with a citizen’s exhibition if a link between participative and aesthetic elements is targeted.


  • Visualization of personal perspectives,
  • Possibility of presenting the different stakeholders‘ points of view in an appealing way,
  • Interviews and aesthetic elements (photos) as starting point,
  • Combination of images and text excerpts,
  • Development of a citizen’s exhibition,
  • Citizen’s exhibition as a means of information, transparence and further discussions.