Challenges and solutions
SPRING is interested in the social, physical and administrative context in which people live. Which is why we have people with different professional backgrounds and work with people who have knowledge from daily practice. In this way, we investigate how well-being is affected in each stage of life. Relevant questions include: which neighbourhood are you born in? Can you play safely outdoors as a child? Does your environment promote healthy choices? Is there sufficient employment? Are care and other amenities in the neighbourhood accessible?
We sit down with policymakers, professionals and residents of Rotterdam-Zuid. But also with other parties: from GPs to project developers and from healthcare insurers to temp agencies. By bringing all that knowledge and experience together, we can obtain a good picture of the challenges and of possible solutions. We try those solutions out in – and with – practice in various Living Labs. In this way, we learn what does and doesn’t work in practice.
From insight to policy
We don’t focus exclusively on the individual, because a person’s well-being depends on many different factors. Our approach is systematic: we look at the bigger picture. We take everything that can affect people’s well-being into account: work and income, living environment, home situation and health. Sometimes, something goes wrong with one of those factors. For example, an unsafe living environment, financial problems or a difficult home situation. Because factors are often interrelated, that will also impact on the rest, making it harder to focus adequately on your health. If we are to achieve lasting improvements in health, we need to be able to step back and see the whole system.
We share the knowledge we gain in this way with academics, municipalities, business and above all with residents. We make the solutions available to everyone that can benefit from them, not just in Rotterdam but also in other cities within and outside the Netherlands.
With SPRING’s Living Labs, we are turning Rotterdam into an ecosystem for open innovation. Our academics investigate an issue on location, together with involved residents, Rotterdam municipality, civil society organisations and other stakeholders. We gain knowledge and try out methods directly in practice.
Within SPRING, we are developing various pilots. In one of them, we are working with teenage girls from Rotterdam-Zuid to explore what they need to embrace an active lifestyle. We are focusing specifically on young people because they often remain invisible. Moreover, research shows that they are harder to involve in activities.
There are many factors that have an impact on health. In order to counteract health differences, a lot of knowledge is therefore required. That knowledge is distributed among many different parties, including residents. In the Living Labs, we gather data from daily practice. We combine that with data we collect from sources like the CBS and businesses, plus data from other academic research. We bring all that knowledge together, so that we can draw evidence-based conclusions.