Adapted from a speech at the Build Back Better Summit by Christina Friis Blach Petersen, CEO and Co-founder of LYS. Representatives from the WHO and the EU Commission met to explore how technology can build healthy cities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
I believe that data-driven technologies give us an important opportunity. With the right tools and the right data, we can:
- Build awareness about overlooked health issues
- Encourage behaviour change
- Enable personalisation.
In these three ways, digital tools can help the world design cities that better support our biology and that recognise the needs of people as individuals.
Data, health, light
So for example, at LYS, we use data and digital tools to help people live healthier with light.
In modern urban environments, people spend 90% of their lives indoors. From the blue light emitted from screens to the lighting in our homes and offices, we are exposed to a greater number of light-emitting products every day.
As a result, there’s an overlooked public health issue. More than just S.A.D. during the dark winter months, there’s a strong link between poor lighting and a range of health problems: from depression to obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
In the short term, our wearable light sensor and wellbeing programmes help to build awareness about light and help to change people’s behaviour.
But importantly, we also gather and analyse human-powered-data. We now partner with employers, engineers, and architects to inform future design decisions.
Employers discover how light is affecting their staff’s productivity and sleep. Architects learn how their designs affect people. Lighting firms use our technology to create dynamic systems that support people’s personal routines and sleep cycles.
The future of healthy cities
So here’s our vision for how technology can build healthy cities. We believe that data-driven technology:
- Makes people more mindful of how their environment affects their health
- Helps employers, engineers and architects make better design decisions
Of course, in today’s world, concerns about privacy and security have made the word ‘data’ sound frightening and intrusive.
But for the next generation of urban design, data gives us an important opportunity to create environments that support our health.
For too long, we have been forced to adapt to our cities. In the future, with the right data and the right tools, we have the chance to build cities that adapt to us.