What a healthy future city feels like?

This research project will investigate transferrable methods and approaches to assess the quality of urban life and citizens’ well-being in cities.

Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Multiple sources (Focus area spearhead projects)

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

Project description

Citizens are the most valuable assets of the cities. Therefore, the quality of life of citizens, their health, and general well-being play the most important role in the prosperity of the city and the society overall. Understanding citizens’ quality of life and well-being in the city is a challenge, as these constructs are composed of diverse subjective and objective parameters, like individual health, physical infrastructure, environmental factors, economic situation, as well as features of social nature, like availability of leisure and educational services [1].

With the growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT), cities are getting equipped with ICT to improve their efficiency and quality of life of their inhabitants, therefore transforming themselves into Smart Cities [2]. Citizens also are getting better equipped with various connected devices, from smartphones to specialized wearable solutions. In addition, data collection initiatives, recording various health-related aspects of citizens, exist. By collecting measured data, available quantitative and qualitative information from Smart Cities and citizens, we assume that we should be able to provide insights into city performance and citizens’ life.

However, there are a number of challenges. For example, cities vary a lot in their infrastructures, sensing capabilities, and data availability. Also, the availability of quantitative data from the citizens is poor since it requires time and tremendous efforts to collect, annotate, store, and process (e.g., anonymize) it in order to be useful for the research. Therefore, due to variations in the availability and quality of sensing and communication infrastructures available in the cities, diversity and inequality of quality of life information from citizens, the knowledge gained from one city cannot be directly applied to another one. This research project aims to investigate how to enable knowledge transfer about citizens’ quality of life across urban spaces through the use of data analysis and transfer learning methods.

[1] Węziak-Białowolska, D. (2016) Quality of life in cities – Empirical evidence in comparative European perspective, Cities,58,pp. 87-96.

[2] Ahvenniemi H. et al. (2017) What are the differences between sustainable and smart cities?, Cities, vol. 60, pp. 234-245.

Researchers working in your project:

- PhD researcher, to be announced

- Ekaterina Gilman, Postdoctoral researcher, Center for Ubiquitous Computing

- Susanna Pirttikangas, Research Director, Adj. Professor, Deputy Director of the Center for Ubiquitous Computing