MyGävle is a research app from FPX and the University of Gävle. It is an important part of the research project BIG which will investigate individual, social and ecological health. With the app users can register good and bad experiences in Gävle and see how places in Gävle relate to participants health and well-being.


Criteria for inclusion in the study are that the person lives in Gävle, knows Swedish or English, are between 15 and 79 years old, and can visite the outdoor environment of the Gävle municipality.

By consenting to participate, the participant is enrolled in the public study. After providing consent and giving the app the required permissions (allowing location and activity sensor tracking and notification prompts; Fig. S2d), the participant responds to a survey gathering socio-demographic details (e.g. gender, age, education and income levels) (Fig. S2e).

Participants enrolled in the public study have subsequently been invited to the health study, in which they contribute their biometric information by wearing a Garmin fitness band.

Via MyGävle, these participants receive additional information about the collection and use of biometric data and can consent to share this data and enter the health study. Participants are asked to wear the fitness band on a regular basis, including during sleep.


Data collection methods
The app MyGävle integrates four separate methods of data collection.

  • First, GPS and activity sensors in the smartphones are used to determine participants movement and place visits.
  • Second, MyGävle connects to fitness bands (Garmin vìvosmart 4) that are distributed among participants. The optical heart rate sensor in the fitness band is used to monitor personal biometric data, and specifically heart rate variability (HRV), an important physiological health marker (Sztajzel 2004).
  • Third, a public participation geographical information system (PPGIS) survey is used to record subjective place experiences of the landscape.
  • Lastly, seasonal surveys are used to monitor variations in indicators of interest for the study across long periods of time. For the BIG project, these surveys are focused on human flourishing, human-nature relationships, environmental social norms, and social capital.


Seasonal surveys
For each season in the research project, MyGävle asks participants to answer a survey. In total, the seasonal survey contains 23 items: six for human flourishing (based on VanderWeele 2017), nine for human-nature relationships (based on Giusti et al. 2018), three for environmental social norms (inspired by Park and Smith 2007), and five for social capital (based on Healy 2002; Villalonga-Olives 2016). Each item is a statement that the participant responded using a color-coded 7-step Likert scale going from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree”. The season-al survey was sent to participants in September 2021, January 2022, April 2022, July 2022, and in November 2022.


Fitness bands
A subset of all participants in the health study has agreed to use a Garmin vìvosmart 4 fitness band that was offered at a discounted price and thereby contribute to the study with additional biometric data.


Smartphone GPS and activity sensors
We use the in-built GPS sensors of participants’ smartphones to continuously track their location. To limit battery consumption, we use the phone’s accelerometer to determine when the phone is in motion. GPS records are saved when transitioning from being still to in motion, every 10 seconds or 50 meters.


Financial incentives to recruit participants
The financial incentives to participate was to receive a Garmin vìvosmart 4 for SEK 99 instead of SEK 1.199 that participants are allowed to keep upon completion of the study.

They also had the possibility to enter a raffle for five electric bicycles (market value of 18.000 SEK each) to be held at the end of the study in December 2022.


MyGävle has been available for downloading from Google Play and Apple Store for free since July 2021.



Project data so far:

35 Million GPS location points recorded

Over 8700 experiences reported

426 people downloaded the app

257 filled in the baseline survey

160 people participated in the private study

230 are still using the app on a regular basis



Screen images:

Fig 1a. MyGävle shows the current location of participants with a map of all the locations visited in the previous week.

Fig 1b. Notifications sent to participants. Important to maintain a relationship and communication with the participants

Fig 1c. Location of all reported positive and negative experiences by all participants. This allows the participants to feel part of a community contributing to the research project.


Fig 1d. Seasonal leaderboard. Gamification of the research experience. Every season participants participate in a small competition based on the experiences they report. If they report 10 experiences they get an extra ticket for the final lottery. If they report the maximum amount of experiences among all other participants for that season, they receive 3, 2, or 1 extra ticket for the lottery at the end of that season.

Fig 1e. Settings page where participants can change the language of the app, invite a friend, read the privacy policy and FAQs, or exit the study.

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