Field Research

4-6 weeks
Participatory Activity
Toolbox Themes
  • Climate actionIncorporate an approach to efficiently streamline the city's disaster risk preparedness, combat climate change and its impacts and integrate disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation measures into urban planning processes, strengthening the city's overall resilience to natural hazards.
  • ParticipationInclude diverse stakeholders, sectors, and perspectives to improve and make more inclusive the urban planning process and results.
  • Socio-spatial inclusionReduce socio-spatial inequalities by promoting the even distribution of basic urban services, quality public spaces, affordable housing, and livelihood opportunities.

Collect and/or produce additional data needed for the analysis of the city.

  • New data produced through multiple activities (surveys, participatory mapping, field visit, etc.)

  • Maps, diagrams and data visualisations


If there is limited information available, additional participatory or on-the-ground activities can be carried out to complement it. Field research is also a useful practice to validate data that has been previously collected or to gather more detailed information of a specific component or location. Data collection, especially on the field, should be aligned with the plan’s objective and focused on the specific area, scale and topics of interest. Furthermore, it should also consider thematic areas relevant to the specific context, such as coastal areas, presence of informal settlements, predisposition for tourism, vulnerability to climate change, etc.

There are different ways of conducting field research. In a reconnaissance survey, the technical team identifies on-the-ground features or elements that are relevant for the analysis and notes them down on a base map, using appropriate software, such as GPS tracking. Moreover, participatory activities with a group or a specific stakeholder, such as community mapping workshops, interviews, and household surveys, provide high quality information based on the empirical experience (e.g. the identification of climate risk hotspots by the community) and the technical knowledge of the residents and experts. This kind of exercise allows to build capacity and knowledge to the local stakeholders and officers at city level. Lastly, high-resolution satellite imagery can be bought, or drone imagery can be taken to increase the level of detail of the existing information.

  1. Review the available data gathered during the desk research activity, identify key topics and/or areas to prioritise during the field research, and consolidate the list of data to be gathered in this activity. 
  2. Select the methods that will be used to conduct the field research.
  3. Identify knowledge gaps at the local level and prepare training and capacity building activities to perform before the data collection. 
  4. If needed, identify a representative sample of the population or invite any relevant stakeholder from the advisory committee to conduct the activities.
  5. Prepare all the materials required to carry out the T16 Participatory Incremental Mapping (PIM).
  6. If relevant, develop T15 Matrix of Functions (MoF) to further understand the spatial structure and the land use.
  7. Organise bilateral meetings with relevant stakeholders to collect official data and additional information.
  8. Plan field visits in key areas and important locations in the city to gather more specific information. 
  9. During the field research, observe, listen, take notes, save locations, and do not jump to conclusions.
  10. Compile the newly gathered data and combine it with the existing data into a series of base maps (T14 Desk and Field Research - Maps and Data Checklist).
Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Action

To assess the vulnerability to hazards in a specific settlement or community, one of the first activities to prepare is anImpact Chain Diagram, which will be done through a participatory approach. The Impact Chain Diagram will help visualise how hazard events and their impacts are interrelated. This tool helps to shift from local impact observation (eg. “There are more power outages during the hot season”) to understand which hazard is at the root of the impact (eg. longer periods of drought).

T17 Impact Chain Diagram

Additional resources:
Planning for Climate Change
Climate Proofing Toolkit
CityRAP Tool City Resilience Action Planning Tool