Photo credit: ©Dylan Passmore

The Virtual-STEPS tool (short for Virtual Systematic Tool for Evaluating Pedestrian Streetscapes) is a Google Street View-based auditing tool specifically designed to remotely assess micro-scale characteristics of the built environment (e.g., benches, sidewalks, building setback, nature areas, and cues of social disorganization or crime).

The concise and virtual nature of the auditing tool makes it a relatively cost-effective and efficient auditing instruments that can be used for widespread surveillance at local, provincial, and national levels. The tool has 39 items categorized into 6 domains (pedestrian infrastructure, traffic calming and streets, building characteristics, bicycling infrastructure, transit, and aesthetics).

The Virtual-STEPS tool is available for anyone to use. You can view and download the manual here.

©Google Street View images from the Virtual-STEPS manual showing micro-scale features that can affect the active living friendliness of a neighborhood (also called walkability).

To learn more, check out our group's research article, published in BMC Public Health, by Madeleine Steinmetz-Wood, Kabisha Velauthapillai, Grace O’Brien, and Nancy A. Ross.