Academics use app to track response to green space

A new app is set to track the wellbeing impact of green space and other public spaces as part of an academic study.

How Shmapped works. Image: University of Sheffield
How Shmapped works. Image: University of Sheffield

The project, launched by The Universities of Derby and Sheffield and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust – asks adult citizens to help map their responses to the city through an app called Shmapped – short for Sheffield mapped - to try and understand how urban living affects our wellbeing, help people enjoy their surroundings, and help town planners design better spaces.

To take part residents need to download an app and answer a few questions about their wellbeing. Shmapped then prompts them once a day to notice the good things about their surroundings. 

Participants can take notes and photos and Shmapped will map the locations of the places which make people feel good. After using Shmapped for 30 days, users then answer the same questions from the start of the study. The study is part of the Improving Wellbeing Through Urban Nature project (IWUN) led by the University of Sheffield,

Project lead Dr Anna Jorgensen of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape Architecture, said: "There have been numerous studies that have looked at how urban public spaces affect people’s health and wellbeing, but what is different about our project is that we have produced a smartphone app which allows people to track how they instantly respond to their surroundings, and enables us to identify precisely which places in their city, and which characteristics of those places, are making a positive difference to people’s health, wellbeing and overall quality of life. These findings are important because they could be used to improve the types of spaces that are created in cities."

Dr Miles Richardson from the College of Life and Natural Sciences at the University of Derby, said the idea was based on previous research by the university which showed it was important for people to notice the good things around them.

"Running the study via a smartphone app allows some incredibly rich data to be collected with participants able to map, note and photo the good things they see. The conversational style and focus on good things creates an app that is enjoyable and engaging in its own right, which is certainly novel for a research study of this scale and complexity."

To encourage take-up the organisers are offering a prize draw with vouchers worth between £50 and £100 and a one-in-ten chance of winning. 


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