Smartphone app set to reveal how natural and built spaces affect our health

July 24, 2017

Hot off the press, Furthermore and Go Jauntly, have created a brand new cross platform smartphone app enables that Sheffield’s residents to track how natural and built spaces affect their health and wellbeing.  The research is set to reveal the types of natural and built spaces urban residents encounter and what type of spaces benefit their wellbeing most through the app as it prompts people to notice good things about their surroundings
The app is a part of the wider IWUN project, led by the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield. Developed in collaboration with researchers from the Universities of Derby and Sheffield, together with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and Furthermore Ltd, the app prompts people to notice good things about their surroundings. It also records users’ locations and activity, which could reveal new insights into the types of spaces people encounter in cities and how different spaces affect their wellbeing.

“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 respond instantly to their surroundings, and enables us to identify precisely which places in our city, and which characteristics of those places, are making a positive difference to people’s health, wellbeing and overall quality of life.”

— Dr Anna Jorgensen, leading the project from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape Architecture

Pic Credit: Shane Rounce on Unsplash
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Pic Credit: Shane Rounce on Unsplash                                

The smartphone app - Shmapped- is initially being launched for people living in Sheffield. After collecting baseline wellbeing data through brief questionnaires, the app prompts users to map the good things in the city and rate each location.

“Shmapped is based on previous research we conducted which shows the importance of noticing the good things around you. 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.”

— Dr Miles Richardson from the College of Life and Natural Sciences at the University of Derby, leading Shmapped

Pic Credit: Shane Rounce on Unsplash
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Pic Credit: Shane Rounce on Unsplash                                

The research team is now looking for city residents to download the app and take part in the study to map the good things in natural and built spaces . The app is free to download and participants need to use it for at least one month to be included in the study.

We are absolutely delighted to be a part of this team and study as it is very closely aligned with our own thinking. There is a growing body of evidence that the design of built areas and green spaces in cities has a direct impact on residents’ wellbeing. With population growth in cities ever-increasing, it's really important that cities are better designed for humans and wildlife alike. The Shmapped app and its Shmapbot, helps to start this conversation and make it easier for participants to capture the good things that they notice about Sheffield - and beyond. We have no doubt that the data captured and new insights it produces will go on to influence products like Go Jauntly, a platform we created to help people discover walks and reconnect with nature, as well as other future cities products, services, buildings and spaces and in turn have a positive impact on the overall health and wellbeing of the general public.


The free app is available on Android and iOS. For more information on the study and to download the app, visit IWUN's website or find out more in our case study.

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