I’m Ruth Riddell. I joined the Open Glasgow Team around six weeks ago to support our data collection initiatives, specifically relating to Active Travel.
‘Open Data’ was a relatively new concept to me, although I soon realised that I had been accessing open data in various formats for a number of years, and had experienced how valuable sharing knowledge and data is.

What is Walkonomics?

Many factors influence our decision to walk somewhere, and among these, how friendly our streets are to walkers. In an effort to encourage more people to choose the healthier option of walking, the Active Travel Demonstrator set out to measure how friendly the streets are.
Walkonomics is an application that aims to measure the ‘walkability’ of streets based on a number of physical characteristics ie: how easy and pleasant it is to make your way around the city on foot. The app utilises open source data to rank streets from one to five based on specific criteria:

  • Road safety: How safe do you feel from traffic? Where possible this includes actual road accident statistics, street type, traffic speeds and activity.
  • Navigation: Are any street names, pedestrian signs or maps provided? Is it easy to find your way around this area?
  • Public safety: How safe do you feel? Factors which can influence the perception of safety are included such as street lighting, vandalism, graffiti and the presence of police along with public safety statistics.
  • Smart and beautiful: Is there much litter or vandalism? Does the street have any trees or other green space or vegetation? Are there any derelict buildings?
  • Fun and relaxing: What amenities are available? Are there places of interest? Is it a crowded and noisy street?

Open data and computer models

The application combines open data and computer models to assign a ‘base’ rating for each street. Users can then add their own ratings and complete the picture.

The app will illustrate that walking not only has public health benefits, but also supports the local economy. The app can be used by tourists, shoppers or those wanting to improve their fitness level. It will also be useful for people who have recently moved to the area – students for example.

The Walkonomics app builds on the success of Glasgow Health Walks. They invite residents of all ages and abilities to join local groups for free, short, gentle and friendly walks of up to an hour long. Walkonomics will be part of a suite of apps making it easier to travel actively throughout the city including cycling and heritage walks. Stay tuned for more on this!

A friendlier city

Making the city friendlier to cyclists and walkers is one just one of the potential benefits of open data; it won’t solve Glasgow’s health issues overnight but, little by little, it can nudge us to make better choices in every day life.