Mapping the good things in Derby for improved wellbeing

31 August 2018

A new wellbeing app, developed by the University of Derby, is being rolled out across the city.  The free app – Good Things Derby – prompts users to notice, rate and photograph their surroundings and map the good things in and around Derby.

The app builds on a £1 million research project conducted in collaboration with the University of Sheffield to understand and improve wellbeing in urban environments. It records users’ locations and activity to track the green and built spaces they encounter, and the impact their surroundings have on their wellbeing.  

The research findings will also be used to inform Derby City Council, town planners and developers about what kind of green spaces offer the most benefit to people’s wellbeing, so that these spaces can be optimised in the city.

The development of the app was part of the Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature (IWUN) project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. It was successfully trialled in Sheffield last year as Shmapped (‘Sheffield Mapped’), where it resulted in significant increases in wellbeing and feelings of being connected to nature, with those mapping green spaces showing greater improvements than those in built spaces. 

According to IWUN, projects like this can support the design and management of urban spaces to generate health and well-being benefits, as well as contributing to significant social and economic improvements.

Dr Miles Richardson, Director of Psychology at the University of Derby, said: “We have recently found that mapping the good things in a city improves people’s wellbeing. This was based upon research in Sheffield, so we’re delighted to now have a Derby version of the app.

“Good Things Derby records how people interact with their local green and built spaces and prompts them to notice what is around them. We are asking people who live and work in and around Derby to use the app for seven days to record, photograph and rate the places they visit. The app can also track their activity, allowing us to get some really rich and useful data about the city.” 

University of Derby researcher Dr Kirsten McEwan added: “The great thing about Good Things Derby is it will allow us a unique insight into the type of natural and built spaces people encounter in their day-to-day life, and what type of spaces benefit their wellbeing more than others. Knowing what it is about these spaces that benefits wellbeing will help to inform urban planners and designers and public health organisations about how to create better urban spaces for people and wildlife.”

The research team is now looking for Derby residents to take part in the study for seven days.

Derby-based users who complete the seven-day study will be eligible for entry into a prize draw, with vouchers ranging from £50 to a top prize of £250. To be eligible for the prize draw you must: be aged 18 years or over; live or work in Derby; have completed the questionnaires at the beginning and end of the seven days and follow-up after one month of completing the seven days; use the app regularly to enter notes about good things (every day or every other day); and have completed the app before the end of 31 October 2018.

Derby city centre

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