Windshield Survey Template and Instructions

Windshield Survey Template and Instructions

Windshield and walking surveys are useful ways to assess specific aspects of a community or neighborhood and help give you a feel for the community.

When Should You Do the survey?

Conduct the survey at the time that works best for your schedule, but keep in mind that to truly understand the people who live within the community (or neighborhood), you may wish to do the survey more than once, and at different times of the day or different days of the week. For the purposes of this course, you are not required to do the survey more than once.

Note: Please be mindful of your personal safety. If there is a known issue with hostility between specific groups, it may not be safe for some people to survey particular neighborhoods. Do not knowingly put yourself in harm’s way.


Complete the following:

  • Get familiar with the survey questions and know what you will be looking for.
  • Use a checklist to be sure you have covered all the questions and observed all the areas you want to.
  • Be as inconspicuous as possible. Not only do people act differently when they know they are being observed, they may also become suspicious or hostile.
  • Be sure you carry identification.
  • Take notes along the way. You can also take photos with a camera or cell phone to help you remember what you have seen.
  • Be sure to always pay attention to your safety. Be aware of the neighborhood and the situation.

Are You Ready? Then Let Us Get Going!

Use the spaces between the questions for your notes. You can write more complete observations once you return home.

  • Housing: What is the age and condition of housing in the community or neighborhood? Are the houses and apartments kept up, or are they run-down and in need of repair? Are the yards neat or overgrown?
  • Other buildings: Are other buildings mostly or fully occupied? Are public and commercial buildings accessible by people with disabilities?
  • Parks and public spaces: Are parks and other public spaces well-maintained? Are they used by a variety of people? Are there sports facilities such as baseball fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, et cetera?
  • Culture and entertainment: Are there museums, libraries, theaters, restaurants, historic sites, et cetera? Do they reflect the culture of the community? Are they readily accessible?
  • Streets: Are there trees or plants along the streets? Are there sidewalks? Are the streets and sidewalks clean? Are there trash cans sitting out in sight? Are there people on the streets? Do they interact with each other? Are the streets well-lit at night?
  • Business and industry: What kinds of businesses are there? Are there vacant storefronts? In what languages are business signs? Do the businesses provide the necessities for the community (groceries, medications, et cetera)? Is there any kind of industry present?
  • Traffic and transportation: Is there evidence of public transportation? Is it well-used? Is it easy to navigate and use? How much does it cost? Who uses it? How heavy is the traffic? Is there a major road or highway close by? Is the traffic mostly commercial—delivery vans, trucks—or private cars? Are there many bicycles? Are there bike lanes and bike racks?
  • Public services: Are there identifiable public service providers such as mental health clinics, food banks, homeless shelters, et cetera? Are there police or fire stations nearby? Are they easy to reach?

 Religious centers: Are there churches or other religious institutions? Are they of one faith or do they represent a variety of faiths? Is there one dominant religion?

 Health services: How many hospitals and clinics are there? How big are they? Are they easy to get to?

 Education: Are there public or private K–12 schools nearby? Are they well-maintained? Are there any 2- or 4-year colleges or universities? Are they public or private?

 Population: Who lives in the community? Are there identifiable racial or ethnic groups? Do particular groups seem to live in particular areas? Is one age group or gender more obvious? Do the people who live in this community seem to interact with each other?

 What is your overall impression of the community?

 Summary and Analysis

To help you analyze what you have seen and decide how to use it, here are some questions you should consider:

  • What are the community’s outstanding strengths?
  • What things seem to be the community’s biggest challenges?
  • What was the most unexpected thing you observed?
  • What aspect of the community really stood out for you?
  • How can you use this information to guide your recommendation?


Community Tool Box. (n.d.). Retrieved from