FinEst Centre's pilot: Well-being score for the better urban living environment 

How do urban residents feel at the main square of a city, in the courtyard of the residential district or in the park? Which places evolve positive emotions and provide mental restoration, and which, on the contrary, stress people out? Find it out with a Well-Being Score (WBS) - a tool, which helps you to identify positively and negatively perceived locations in the city based on the “objective” spatial data, as well as physiological and psychological reactions of the inhabitants to the certain locations. 

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Narva Youth City vision for 2035, SPIN Unit

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Pilot project team

What is the Well-being score? 

The Well-being Score (WBS) is an innovative system, which establishes the relationship between spatial characteristics and the well-being of local citizens. WBS builds on the well-known model of determinants for health and well-being by Barton & Grant (2006), and reinvents it to fit the local context and “objectively” measurable data. In its essence the Well-being Score consists of five layers: 

  • The natural environment layer, which calculates the share of “positive” landscape elements, such as trees and grassy areas, and the share of “negative” elements, like contaminates sites and large asphalted areas; 

  • The built environment layer, which estimates the connectivity of the street network, the accessibility and retention time of certain locations; 

  • The activities layer, which evaluates the diversity of public amenities and services in the area, as well as their proximity to the households; 

  • The psychological layer, which assesses the potential for mental restoration in certain places;  

  • The physiological layer, which measures the exposure of individuals to spatially determined stress factors in certain places. 

WBS is piloted in the city of Narva in Estonia, and aims to identify why the public spaces, incl, in different residential areas, with seemingly similar spatial characteristics are perceived differently by the locals, and why some places become more popular than the others.

 

What has been done so far? 

WBS was kicked-off in January 2022, and since then we have conducted a number of research, information and dissemination activities. 

In February we conducted fieldwork in Narva, and produced a short-list of public spaces for an in-depth study. 

On 29th March we held a hybrid seminar, which ran onsite at Narva Objekt and online in Zoom and on Facebook, where the researchers presented in detail the elements of the Well-being Score. The recording of the event is available here

From 18th April to 12th of May we conducted a Small-scale study in Narva. In this study we measured the physiological and psychological reactions of twenty-eight (28) Narva citizens in four (4) public spaces. 

At the moment we are working on the interpretation of the measurement results, and we expect to deliver the preliminary Well-being Score for Narva by the end of August 2022.  We are parallel also gathering feedback about the Well-Being Score as a service from other cities. 

 

What are the next steps? 

From June 2023 onwards we are planning to offer the Well-Being Score service to other cities in Estonia. The Well-Being Score can be applied either in the process of general plan preparation to measure in practice how people are feeling themselves in specific locations in your city, or in the process of developing concrete locations and measuring well-being of people in these locations before and after the development. To find out more about the service contact the Head of Innovation at FinEst Centre for Smart Cities Külle Tärnov, +372 56800221, kulle.tarnov@taltech.ee

 

In September 2022 we are starting a large-scale study, which measures the physiological and psychological responses of Narva residents at eight (8) public spaces. 

 

The Well-being Score is one of the six (6) pilot projects run by  FinEst Centre for Smart Cities. Each pilot project is conducted in collaboration with one or more cities, and is targeted at solving real life problems in real life settings, thus, closing the gap between academic research and practice. More about the FinEst Piloting Programme can be found here

 

Well-being Score pilot project is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, and co-funded by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, under grant agreement N. 2014-2020.4.01.20-0289.