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CentUR receives ZonMW/NWO grant for assessing the built environment in light of the ‘1,5 meter society’

Date of news: 6 October 2020

The Center for Urban Research (CentUR) has been awarded funding for its research project ‘Is the built environment future proof to enable active living in a 1.5 meter society?’ submitted for the ZonMW/NWO call COVID-19, focus area 3 ‘Societal Dynamics’. The project, led by Prof. Dr. Erwin van der Krabben, Dr. Henk-Jan Kooij, and Dr. Kevin Raaphorst, is formed by a cooperation between RU, RadboudUMC, University of Groningen, and UUM – Unlimited Urban Management. The proposal was lauded for its innovative combination of medical research, spatial GIS analysis, and urban planning and design.

The extent to which our built environment (BE) stimulates active behavior has become an increasingly pressing topic, especially since a recent pilot study by the RadboudUMC shows that physical activity decreased significantly during the COVID-19 lockdown. More importantly, we expect that people with a lower social-economic status (SES) will experience more severe short- and long term health issues as a result of this decrease in physical activity. Together with 12 municipalities, this project will focus on typical low SES neighborhoods, where we will measure activity patterns during different stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. Potential health effects of social distancing policies will be modelled based on a GIS analysis of neighborhood typologies. Concrete interventions in the built environment to stimulate active behavior will be implemented and monitored.

The project will result in a ‘beweegplekmeter’ for the qualitative evaluation of built environments in relation to active living, as well as a collection of short- and long term BE interventions. The project is supported by ESRI Nederland, EagleSensing, Pharos, GGD Gelderland-Zuid and local housing corporations.