Project GISMO: Active commutes as health provision

Currently everybody is talking about exercise as good health provision. “Sitting is the new smoking” is a slogan frequently repeated. The GISMO project subsidised by the FFG and headed by Cycle Competence member Z_GIS (Department of Geoinformatics, University of Salzburg) has picked up these topics of active mobility and health provision: It is positioning the daily commute to work as a chance for exercise and health provision at the same time.

The acronym GISMO stands for Geographical Information Support for Healthy Mobility. And that is the idea behind it: With the help of spatial models and analyses the best possible connection between home and work is determined. It has to contain a minimum of active mobility. At the same time a clinical study with 70 participants is testing the expected health effects of various measures in the course of a corporate mobility management.

At the end of the projects an information platform is made available, allowing companies and commuters to calculate different variations of individual commutes to work and find out their respective health benefits. Apart from the information itself this offers companies an important basis for evidence to make target investments in their employees’ health.

Sports-medical examination using the Polar fitness watch (Photo: SALK, Polar)

Participants do not use their cars for one year

In the meantime, the 70 test persons have successfully completed the first five months of the trial that in total takes one year. Now, 20 participants are not changing their commuting behaviour and are serving as a control group. The other 50 have not used their cars for their commute to work since the spring. Instead, they are walking to work, using public transport or bicycles. All participating commuters had a sports-medical check at the Institute for sports medicine at the Salzburg University Hospital.

At the end of the study phase this health check is repeated to see what has changed in the course of the year. In between, the participants are recording their mobility in a specifically developed mobility diary. For two weeks they are also wearing a GPS-equipped fitness watch. It can determine the energy metabolism for the various mobility alternatives. From a first test series the researchers from the Department of Geoinformatics Z_GIS at the University of Salzburg were already able to gather first results. They showed, among other things, that the combination of GPS data and heart rate is very suitable for deciding on the right means of transport.
5 tracked commutes – the heart rate (beats/minute) makes it significantly easier to track which mode of transport was chosen (Image: Z_GIS)

Assessing the health effect for each chosen route

To realistically design the recommendations for health effective commutes to work it is necessary to take the conditions of the commuter route into consideration. Therefore a complex method for routing and route assessment was developed, headed by the research studios iSPACE. The quality of infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists is just as important as the distance to the next stop with sufficiently good connections.
Assessing the infrastructure with so-called walkability and bikeability indices. (Photo: Z_GIS)

A first version of the web-based platform, developed by TraffiCon, compiling all significant information, will be presented at the international TRA conference in Vienna (16-19 April 2018). Additionally, a scientific symposium will be discussing the contribution spatial information can have on healthy mobility. For this a call for papers will be starting shortly; information is available on the organiser’s website. All consortium partners in the project, as well as supporting companies, making the clinical study possible using incentives, can be found on the project website.

Posted on October 10, 2017