Outdoor and indoor environments impact older people’s mobility, independence, quality of life, and ability to “age in place”. Considerable evidence suggests that not only the amount, but also the quality, of public green spaces in the living environment is important. The quality of public green spaces is mostly measured through expert assessments by planners, designers and developers. A disadvantage of this expert-determined approach is that it often does not consider the appraisals or perceptions of residents. Daily experience, often over long periods of time, means older residents have acquired insider knowledge of their neighbourhood, and thus, may be more qualified to assess these spaces, including measuring what makes a valued or quality public green space. The aim of this Australian pilot study on public green spaces for ageing well was to test an innovative citizen science approach to data collection using smart phones. “Senior” citizen scientists trialed the smart phone audit tool over a three-month period, recording and auditing public green spaces in their neighbourhoods. Data collected included geocoded location data, photographs, and qualitative comments along with survey data. While citizen science research is already well established in the natural sciences, it remains underutilised in the social sciences. This paper focuses on the use of citizen science with older participants highlighting the potential for this methodology in the fields of environmental gerontology, urban planning and landscape architecture.
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