HEAT Tool Workshop in Turku

At the beginning of the January, partners from Turku and Stockholm gathered together to dive deeper into assessment tool to calculate the positive effects that cycling creates.

As you probably already know, the name of this project is Participatory urban planning for healthier urban communities and it is shortened as HEAT. No-one can argue that is much simpler to remember and quicker to say. As it happens, the project team is learning to use the Health Economic Assessment Tool to calculate carefully the benefits of cycling.  And guess what? The name of the tool is also shortened as HEAT. So don’t worry if you are getting mixed up!

In spite of the names no sweat broke in our HEAT workshop when the consultants from WSP, Hannu Lehto and Kaisuliina Vihanti presented the tool in more detail. The online HEAT tool was developed by WHO to facilitate evidence-based decision-making. It calculates the economic value of the health benefits resulting from physical activity. This is due to the reduction in mortality caused by cycling and walking. The tool is intended to be part of comprehensive cost–benefit analyses of infrastructure projects and it complements existing tools for economic valuations. In our case the tool will supplement the information needed for better urban planning.

The group split up in two teams according to geographical borders. The Swedish team concentrated in their Stockholm region, and Turku-based actors in calculations about Southwest Finland.

It was very helpful to have Hannu and Kaisuliina around all the time to be able to ask questions and tips. There are many choices to make while doing the calculations. How much is the population growth going to be? Should we examine 10 years’ time span or longer period? Is it expected that the investments in infrastructure will take place as scheduled or late?

You need some practice before you understand what kind of information can be reached through the tool and what is and what is not possible. Furthermore the participants noted that you also need to learn more about the factors behind the tool to be able to present the information effectively to new audiences.

We discussed the possibilities to make calculations with city officials in a workshop and also the opportunities and threats with that. More work is needed but at least the tool was now properly tested.

More information on HEAT tool can be found here.

Laura Luukkonen, Project Coordinator
Baltic Region Healthy Cities Association