UCL Grand Challenges


New app to boost wellbeing using the built environment

3 October 2017

A new free app developed by a team at UCL aims to help people boost their wellbeing by discovering the built environment around them.

The app, "mHealthMap", has been created by Dr. Theodore D Cosco, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing and Dr. David Bann, a Lecturer at the UCL Institute of Education. This cross-disciplinary team has worked with developers Eos Analytics to build the app, informed by the latest research. Workshops between the researchers and the developers informed how the app, which is now available on the Apple App Store, took shape.

Download the app for your Apple device

Project researcher Dr. Cosco said: "The app provides users with an intuitive interface to locate aspects of users' immediate environment, e.g. sports centres, that existing evidence suggests are associated with wellbeing. The aim is to encourage people, particularly adolescents who we hope will use the new app, to make healthier choices to improve their wellbeing.  

"I think there are some really interesting potential research avenues we could take this project in the future, such as gathering information from smartphones by recording user inputs and using passive data collection mechanisms to examine how adolescents are interacting with their environment and how this is related to their wellbeing."

The project received a £5,000 grant from the UCL Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing, a cross-disciplinary research-related initiative at UCL with the aim of bringing researchers from different fields together to solve the world's major problems. The mHealthMap project is a vanguard activity for 'Adolescent Lives', a wider Grand Challenges programme involving all six Grand Challenges, addressing the worldwide concern about young people's circumstances and prospects.

Drs. Cosco and Bann are currently looking for research partners to build upon, and continue, this pilot project, specifically with respect to expanding the mHealthMap platform into a data collection tool for wellbeing research. If you are interested in getting involved in this project please contact Dr. Theodore D Cosco at t.cosco@ucl.ac.uk.