What if you could earn a free Translink day pass or a cup of coffee for time spent in your local park in Belfast?
With the Civic Dollars app, you can do just that. People can earn rewards by spending time in parks, open spaces, heritage and conservation zones around Belfast. Once Civic Dollars are earned, they can be traded for discounted or free services, community classes, or donated to local community groups and charities.
Civic Dollars has since partnered with the Upper Springfield Development Trust to deliver a one-year Healthy Ageing Small Business Research Initiative Project, funded by the UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge and delivered by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council.
The project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of older people living in west Belfast by using the Civic Dollars app to encourage participants to spend more time in parks and open spaces whilst giving them access to tailored rewards that will contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes.
Since the start of the project, more than 700 people in west Belfast have signed up to the app, earning rewards, while looking after their health and wellbeing.
First piloted by Belfast City Council in 2021 during lockdown, the app was funded through the council’s ‘Amazing Spaces, Smart Places’ project, part of the Smart Belfast programme, exploring how data and innovative technologies can create smart solutions for urban challenges and improve city services.
Since the launch of the Civic Dollars app, more than 6,100 hours of additional footfall has been recorded in Belfast parks, with this data now being used to consider how to better use city spaces, promote local attractions, increase physical activity, change behaviours, encourage switches to multi-modal transportation, and improve mental wellbeing.
After meeting with Healthy Ageing participants in Falls Park this week, Belfast Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy spoke on the success of the pilot: “We first launched Civic Dollars on the Connswater Community Greenway as part of our Smart Belfast programme, supporting innovators to trial their prototype. It’s great to see that Stephen McPeake’s innovative app is now being rolled out to benefit many more people and communities.”
Civic Dollars CEO, Stephen McPeake said: “Technology has the power to unlock societal challenges, and Civic Dollars is doing just that by supporting improved outcomes across physical, mental and environmental wellbeing.
“The benefits of good physical and mental health are well documented, and through the app, we set out to deliver something that would support and incentivise individuals and communities to improve their wellbeing.
“By creating an inclusive platform, we are supporting a positive approach that can demonstrate the power of small steps leading to tangible benefits, both in the rewards the app provides and ultimately, the benefits to wellbeing.“
• Main image: Belfast Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy pictured in centre of Healthy Ageing Participants