Introducing BeeActive: A Walking App That Combines Fitness and City Discovery

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BeeActive is one of the Health and Social Care projects within CityVerve, and aims to help people achieve their daily walking goals with behaviour change ‘nudges’ – while at the same time discovering new things about the city of Manchester.

We’re exploring how Internet of Things (IoT) technology can help encourage people to increase their levels of physical activity to improve their health, productivity and general wellbeing.

The project is being led by The University of Manchester and we’re delighted to be working with Clicks + Links to develop the BeeActive smartphone app.

The app will ask users to create an account and to set a personal daily steps goal. A lot of the work Clicks + Links does is based around gamification and creating exciting ‘missions’ for people to take on.

The app will provide simple nudges for users to respond to, such as offering people a mission to stretch their legs and go for a walk at lunchtime.

In time, the app will learn what types of missions a user prefers and tailor what’s offered based on their preferences.

A personalised future

As the CityVerve project progresses, and more technology is installed along Oxford Road, BeeActive will be able to provide more personal nudges.

For example, if someone usually takes the bus to work, the app will detect when they’re a few stops away from their usual destination and then encourage them to get off the bus and walk the final leg to work.

As well as encouraging a more active lifestyle, use of traffic data will allow the app to inform users when walking might be a quicker option than sitting in traffic – being careful to check weather data to note when the weather suits a stroll, of course!

This will demonstrate how IoT and data sharing works by pulling information about location, the weather, traffic and transport together to provide personalised nudges to encourage healthier behaviour.

Discovering more

We’ll also be adding new missions to encourage people to explore parts of Manchester they might not have visited previously.

We might, for instance, suggest people take a cultural walk around Manchester following the Manchester Bee trail – following the bees that are embossed on council property in Manchester – or we might add a mission to take a lunchtime stroll among the flora and fauna of Whitworth Park.

And, of course, CityVerve is a citizen-focused project, so we’d be more than happy for people to suggest types of missions that they’d like to see added to the BeeActive app. You’ll find us over on Twitter.

First things first, though: download the app! It’s available from Apple’s App Store, as well as the Google Play store – just search BeeActive.

Written by Charlotte Stockton-Powdrell