The scenic areas that make people feel healthier

09 June 2016

  • Scenicness found to be associated with better reported health
  • Interactive map will reveal Coventry's favourite scenic spots
  • Videos and pictures of the city's scenery in exhibition
  • Research shows scenery not greenery boosts health

Coventry residents will reveal their favourite scenic locations across the city in an interactive exhibition at Warwick Business School, which will explore how scenic areas are linked with reports of better health.

Residents will show and talk about their favourite scenic locations in video snapshots at the school on June 14, which visitors will find embedded within an interactive map.

The videos feature residents discussing well known scenic locations in Coventry, such as the Coventry Cathedral and War Memorial Park, along with lesser known places which are important to local residents, such as Primrose Hill Park, Coventry Canal Basin, Allesley Park Walled Garden as researchers from Warwick Business School’s Data Science Lab reveal how people report better health in more scenic areas.

With support from the University of Warwick’s Public Engagement Fund Warwick Business School's Data Science Lab has collaborated with Tisk Media to create an installation that will also allow visitors to explore England and Wales on a large interactive map, and experience audio representations of 'scenicness', health, crime, income and pollution measurements as they move around. 

The researchers hope the exhibition will show planners and policymakers how important scenery is to people's health.

The exhibition will allow visitors to interact with pictures of more than 212,000 locations in the UK rated for their scenicness by 1.5 million votes gathered by website ScenicOrNot, which is hosted by the Data Science Lab.

By combining this with data from the 2011 Census, Chanuki Seresinhe, Tobias Preis and Suzy Moat, of Warwick Business School’s Data Science Lab, found that people who live in a more scenic area report their health to be better.

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“We found that people report better health when living in areas of greater ‘scenicness’. Interestingly, it appears that ‘scenicness’ does not simply relate to an area including more greenspace,” said Ms Seresinhe, a PhD student in the Data Science Lab.

“Perhaps most importantly, we found that this result is not just driven by whether people live in the countryside or not. Within urban areas too, locations which were rated as more scenic were linked to reports of better health.

“We chose to specifically focus on Coventry, not only because of the proximity to Warwick Business School, but also as it has many scenic places that are not so well known.

Image: Wikimedia
Feel good factor: Coventry canal is a favourite scenic spot

“It was fascinating to discover them, with the generous help of all the volunteers who shared their local knowledge with us.

“I hope that our exhibition will bring these scenic spaces in Coventry to light, so that more people can enjoy them. I also look forward to discussing with local policymakers and planners about the importance of preserving and creating scenic spaces for future residents to enjoy.”

Dr Moat, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and co-director of the Data Science Lab added: “We’re very grateful to the University of Warwick’s Public Engagement Fund for supporting this exhibition. Our lab’s research is about big data generated by the public, so in turn, a key goal of ours is to help the public and policymakers understand what patterns these new datasets reveal.

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"We’re keen to help the public and policymakers understand this data too, and for them to help us decide what we should be investigating next."

Tobias Preis, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Finance Science and co-director of the Data Science Lab said: “The huge amounts of data we are now generating are allowing us to measure aspects of our world which we simply couldn’t measure before. This new dataset provides an excellent example of this fact, and the results of our analysis underline why such new forms of data really matter."

The exhibition is on June 14, starting at 5pm, at Warwick Business School.


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