Lewisham Borough Council: Promoting local assets and public health

The Organisation

Lewisham Borough Council is the local authority managing Lewisham – a South London district, one of the 33 administrative units of Greater London. Its mission is to manage the territory and look after the welfare and interests of its citizens and the community, in terms of infrastructure, safety, environmental standards and health.

The Challenge

Ensuring that people can actively participate in maintaining and improving their health and wellbeing is one of the main strategic priorities for the Borough Council. In order to achieve this, the Council sought innovative ways of translating strategy into action at a community level.

The Satellite Solution

Walkit.com, a web-based urban walking route planner, allows people to plan and choose walking itineraries according to various criteria: art and culture, local interest points, parks and others. Information on air quality, one of these criteria, is derived from satellite images. The application can be downloaded on a smart phone and allows the user to follow the chosen path thanks to GPS .

In implementing the application for Lewisham, the Borough Council gathered and geo-localised all relevant content that conditions the route planner in Lewisham. This is an on-going effort to valorise the Borough’s assets and encourage walking for public health.
The project was carried out in association with other London Boroughs, to create economies of scale, and benefitted from support from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA ).

The Results

The people of Lewisham now benefit from a new online service that is easy to use and encourages them to walk more. A walkit.com survey shows that 75% of customers are taking more exercise as a result, and that over 90 % have been persuaded at least once to walk – rather than taking a bus, taxi, car or tube.

Consistently positive consumer feedback reports savings in both time and money whilst helping people to lose weight, keep fit and avoid crowded public transport.

“Walkit.com proves to be a useful and motivational tool for people who live, work and visit Lewisham to make their journeys on foot, thereby benefitting from all the advantages that walking in the local area has to offer.“ Dave Trew, London Borough of Lewisham