Happy in Wuppertal

The Wuppertal Institute blazes a new path in the research of well-being

  • News 08.08.2017

Since 23 May 2017, well-being is researched digitally in the city of Wuppertal, Germany. With the App "Happy in Wuppertal", citizens of Wuppertal can let us know how happy they are and what would make their city (even) better. The collected data will be analysed and allows for conclusions on what defines happiness for citizens of Wuppertal. Thus, you can individually see what makes you happy or unhappy - and the data can be analysed securely and anonymously by researchers of the Wuppertal Institute and the Happiness Research Organisation. The results will then be presented in an online dashboard and discussed in public events; they will also be reported to local stakeholders from administration and the local government.

Well-being research has made great progress over the last couple of years. Whether it is the amount of happiness in a single moment or the overall satisfaction with one's life, different aspects of happiness are being researched and analysed. This mostly happens, however, with the help of pen and paper questionnaires. A Smartphone app is closer to its user, always available in everyday life situations and enables users to report moments of (un)happiness whenever they come up. It also provides researchers with a steady group of survey participants. An app that was developed by the Happiness Research Organisation is already in use within international research projects as well as for socio-economic research in Germany and in businesses. In Wuppertal, it now has been adapted systematically for a city in cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute.

There is growing interest in cities around to world aiming to orient their actions towards well-being, creating frameworks and indicator sets to better measure where they are going. Several of these cities, especially those leading the effort like Santa Monica or Bristol, have tried to include more data on the perception of citizens and their happiness. However, they have to rely on classical paper and online surveys, not reaching the level of interaction and detail possible with an app-based approach, which is now possible in Wuppertal.

The first 1.000 questionnaires have been taken by app users, more than 150 additional questionnaires were collected via the website. The key data set is thus complete. Can we already say if Wuppertal is a happy city? "A detailed analysis has yet to be conducted. However, we can already say that Wuppertal citizens are not unhappy, less than 50 respondents see themselves at the lower end of the scale" says Hans Haake, who coordinates the project. "We're especially pleased that so many used the free form fields to provide individual answers. That's not too common in surveys like this."

The app and website are available in German and English. However, one can only participate in the survey if located in Wuppertal, Germany.