David von Becker

Press Release 25 May 2023

Spring Fever in Berlin: Exploring Emotions Together in the City

The citizen science project “Your Emotional City” is entering its next phase: with immediate effect, therelevant app is also available in Arabic, Russian and Turkish. With a choice of five languages, more Berliners than ever before now have the chance to participate in the research project on urban well-being.

David von Becker

“Your Emotional City”, a joint project of the Interdisziplinäres Forum Neurourbanistik e. V., the university hospital Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and Futurium, has been online since August 2022. It invites Berlin’s inhabitants and visitors to share their everyday emotions and feelings of stress in the city over an entire week using the “Urban Mind” app. So far, the app has only been available in German and English. With the addition of the languages Arabic, Russian and Turkish, the project is now entering a new stage. Mazda Adli, a psychiatrist, stress researcher and principal investigator at the university hospital Charité, says: “People with immigrant backgrounds and language barriers are often living with a lot of stress, but are mostly ignored by traditional research projects. Our citizen science app is now available in five languages to break down barriers and reach even more people.”

In line with the spirit of citizen science, the update will also incorporate initial suggestions from app users obtained in public workshops at Futurium, at conferences, through interviews and through users’ submissions. In addition to new questions about, among other things, diversity in the city and the healthcare system in the areas where people live, a greater focus has been placed on issues surrounding the theme of loneliness.

Philosopher and principal investigator at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Joerg Fingerhut says: “By recording the experiences of individual users in the app, we hope to discover new connections between urban space and well-being. You could say we’re crowdsourcing individual life experiences and then discussing our findings together with the participants – this has never been done before in urban mental health research. This is where the real potential of collaborative citizen science becomes apparent.”

Around 1,000 people have participated so far, and the researchers hope that many more will have done so by the end of the year. Those interested can download the free “Urban Mind” app from Google Play or App Store. Over the next seven days, the app will ask its users up to three times a day about their current emotional state and their urban surroundings. The information is then mapped via GPS. The goal is to develop a “city map of emotions” for Berlin.

About the project:

Cities trigger emotions – both pleasant and unpleasant. They provide excellent educational and development opportunities, good healthcare and the prospect of prosperity. They are political, cultural, economic and scientific centres. But they also have another side: they’re often anonymous or dirty, with people living close together in situations of social injustice, accompanied by crime and violence.

The citizen science project “Your Emotional City” primarily explores questions to do with the emotional states of the city’s inhabitants. Over the course of a week, the participants use the “Urban Mind” app to share their personal feelings about the specific locations they find themselves in at the time the app contacts them. The goal is to decode the emotions people experience in streets, squares, neighbourhoods and parks, and in this way to gain insights that will apply to cities in general. The findings can then be used to determine what will make the cities of the future places worth living in. In the course of the project, a “city map of emotions” will be created for Berlin.

“Your Emotional City” is a joint project of the Interdisziplinäres Forum Neurourbanistik e. V., the university hospital Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and Futurium, the House of Futures. The data obtained are to be scientifically processed and made available to the public. In order to put the findings into practice, partnerships exist between the research group and numerous public and political institutions, associations and players from Berlin’s public life. The project is funded by the Berlin University Alliance as part of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments, as well as by the Stiftung für Analytische Psychiatrie and the Theodor Fliedner Stiftung.

Joint press release by Futurium and the Berlin University Alliance (BUA).

Download the app via the following links:

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/urban-mind/id1281988582

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.artistsandengineers.urbanmind_english&hl=en_GB&gl=US

Heads of the research group:

Mazda Adli, Professor Dr. med., Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy CCM, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, mazda.adli@charite.de

Joerg Fingerhut, Dr. phil., Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, joerg.fingerhut@hu-berlin.de

Research fellow in the research group:

Poul Schulte-Frankenfeld, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, poul.schulte-frankenfeld@charite.de

Coordinator of the research group:

Sephira Kolbe, M.Sc. Psych, sephira-maria.kolbe@charite.de