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People's movement patterns in Gävle surprise researchers


Data from activity wristbands and a new app enabled researchers to study the experiences and movement patterns of people in Gävle.

“We see signs that the results may be surprising,” says Karl Samuelsson, researcher in sustainability science at University of Gävle.


To establish how the urban environment affects people's health, the researchers have collected data about the movement patterns and experiences of residents in Gävle municipality who have used activity wristbands and a new app, MyGävle, since September 2021. The research project is now entering the phase when results will be produced.

Matteo Giusti

Matteo Giusti

“For 15 months, we have collected over 5000 subjective experiences from about 200 participants, which is hugely valuable for research and urban planning. Bringing together ecological, social, and individual health in this way is unique," says Matteo Giusti, one of the researchers.

Unique research on Gävle

The aim is to investigate how environments in Gävle can reconcile human health with social sustainability and ecosystem health.

Ecosystem viability and health considers ecosystem services, biodiversity, and spatial structure. For example, a small nature area can have high nature values, but if it is isolated, it will receive a lower score, while areas that are well connected with each other receive a higher score.

Nancy Joy Lim

Nancy Joy Lim

“This can be used, for example, to understand which natural environment we should conserve or enhance in order to increase ecosystem services and biodiversity,' says Nancy Joy Lim, researcher in the team

For example, social sustainability can be studied by looking at whether the registered experiences are evenly distributed across the city or whether a pattern of segregation can be observed.

Activity wristbands and the MyGävle app show how individuals have moved in the urban landscape and whether the experiences have been positive or negative. Some have also worn a heart rate monitor to record physiological health.

Karl Samuelsson

Karl Samuelsson

“The length of the survey allows us to identify differences across all months of the year and to determine whether there are differences between those who live in the city and in the countryside,” Karl Samuelsson says.

Big difference between urban and rural areas

Already, researchers can identify differences between urban and rural areas. People living in the city seem to have nature experiences closer to home than those living in the countryside. In addition, they seem to visit places for nature experiences more often.

“This looks really interesting. It seems as if those who live in the city mark nature experiences further away from home than other types of experiences, while those who live in the countryside mark them closer than other types of experiences. However, those living in the city still have nature experiences closer to home than those living in the countryside.

Karl says that the next step will be a study on possible links between ecosystem health and different types of nature experiences.

Text: Douglas Öhrbom


Symposium: Nested scales of urban form and green urban infrastructure

The BIG projeci is one of many to be presented and discussed at the third symposium on social-ecological urbanism on 8 December at Gävle konserthus.

The research field has been developed by researchers in Gävle, among others, and sees the city as a complex interconnected ecological and social system.

There is a major interest in urban planning right now. Paris has for example, launched the internationally renowned concept of the 15-minute city, referring to a vision of the city where inhabitants can cover all their daily needs like shopping and recuperation, within a 15-minute radius.

“However, the city is a complex system, so these simple rules of thumb are not always enough. For example, we mustn't forget that some natural areas need to be large to provide protection from extreme weather and our research reveals that they must provide nice relaxation and recovery as well,” says Karl Samuelsson.

“In addition, different cities have different structures and characteristics. Therefore, the concept of the 15-minute city may be more appropriate in one city than in another,” Nancy Joy Lim concludes.

Key Note Speakers:

Professor Nora Fagerholm University of Turku, Finland - Sensing place-based land-scape values for resilient, sustainable, and inclusive urban development

Professor Arjan van Timmeren TU Delft, The Netherlands (architecht from Delft) The value of wastescapes as nested regenerative (green) infrastructures

Professor Davide Geneletti University of Trento, Italy - Upscaling nature-based solutions in cities: An urban planning perspectiv

“We have very exciting foreign experts coming to talk about this, which is a super-hot topic all over Europe. We here in Gävle are also strong in this field and can help develop new ideas and solutions—and not only for Gävle, as we can move the entire research field forward,” Karl Samuelsson says.

Programme 8 december

The symposioum is arranged by Urban Studio

The research project BIG aims to gather knowledge about urban solutions to improve public health and the environment. BIG is a collaboration between University of Gävle and Future Position X and is funded by Vinnova. Read more about the research project here.


Karl Samuelsson, researcher in sustainability science at University of Gävle Phone: 073-759 08 50
E-mail: karl.samuelsson@hig.se

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2022-12-05
Högskolan i Gävle
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