who's behind this?

mappiness is created by Dr George MacKerron and Dr Susana Mourato of the Department of Geography & Environment and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

We want to better understand how people's feelings are affected by features of their current environment—things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces.

We'd love to hear from you.



tell me more about the app

what will I do?

First, you'll need to download the free app to your iPhone.

You'll provide some basic demographic and health-related information, and confirm some settings in order to sign up.

After that, you'll receive a notification (beep) on your iPhone between one and five times a day, at your choice. This will come at a random moment during hours you agree.

The notification will prompt you to open the app, to briefly report how you're feeling and—in very broad terms—who you're with, where you are, and what you're doing. If you're outdoors and you're happy to, you'll take a photo of your surroundings too.

(You can also open the app and report on your feelings and situation, unprompted, as often as you like).

how long will it take?

The sign-up process should take no more than 5 minutes. The daily reports on your feelings and situation will take about 30 seconds each.

You can keep taking part in the study for as long (or short) a period as you want.

what data will I be sharing?

While you report your feelings and situation, the app will use your iPhone's GPS (sat-nav) to discover your approximate location. It will also use the microphone to measure ambient noise levels (but it won't record any sound).

When you finish responding, the app will send the answers, noise level measure, location data and photo (if you took one) to our secure data store.

what will you do with this data?

We'll use it solely for our academic research.

We'll apply statistical methods to the combined responses from everyone taking part. We'll use the location data to estimate what the environment was like in the places where people responded. And we'll be looking at the effect of this on people's feelings, while controlling for some other potential influences.

If you're curious to see what we find, please come back to this site from time to time: we'll be posting results here. We also hope to present our findings in academic journals and at conferences, and to make sure policy-makers are aware of anything important.

In all cases, we'll never report any individual's responses—only information at the group level.

and the photos?

If you take a photo we may try to classify it, either manually or using a computer program, to add extra information about your immediate surroundings (for example, are there trees visible?).

If you explicitly agree—and we'll check this with you for every photo—we may also feature it on the map.

is it anonymous?

Yes. We won't know who you are. We don't ask for your name or for any other identifying information, and we don't need your phone number to send notifications to your iPhone. In principle, given enough responses, it might be possible to identify you from your location data, but we promise we won't try.

is it confidential?

Yes. We won't disclose your data to any third party unless (1) we're required by law to do so, or (2) we do so under a strict contractual agreement with other academic researchers, exclusively for the purpose of academic research at a recognised institution.

is it secure?

Yes. All communication between the app and our data store is over an SSL-encrypted connection, the same kind used for online banking and shopping. The data store is a firewalled and fully updated Linux server.

is it easy to get out of?

Yes! Taking part is completely voluntary. You can withdraw at any time and without giving a reason: just delete the app from your iPhone. You could also ask us to delete all your data from our data store.

Alternatively you can take a break from the study by changing your notifications per day to zero on the Settings screen within the app.

how much data does it use?

Not much. Responding to a notification generally uses as much data as sending a brief email (around 1KB). If you're outdoors and take a picture, it's more like viewing a simple web page (15 – 20KB). Getting your status when you open the app uses less than 1KB. Viewing your graphed responses uses about 3KB.

So if you respond to two beeps per day, and you take a photo on 20% of these occasions, you'll use about 350KB per month. (If you have an inclusive data bundle, this is probably less than 0.1% of it.)

You may want to turn off data when you're abroad (roaming), though, as this can be very expensive.

I'm not in the UK — can I take part?

You're welcome to, but we may not use your data in our research. And look out for the time difference when setting the hours when you can be beeped: all times in the app are UK times (GMT or GMT+1).

I have another question…

Great. Please get in touch: see our contact details at the top of this page.


Many thanks are due to:

This project sits on top of a huge stack of free and open-source software. So we'd also like to thank the authors of and contributors to:

pyapns, Cocoa With Love, Bluff, json-framework, Listener, GeoRuby, Spatial Adapter, ActiveRecord, Ojay, YUI, 960 Grid System, dygraphs, FlashCanvas, PostGIS, PostgreSQL, Sinatra, Rack, Ruby, Phusion Passenger, nginx, Ubuntu.

ESRC logo

Please share!