Vilnius residents are happiest during the holidays, mornings and evenings

Numerous research and experience of the world’s happiest cities show that positive emotions expand a person’s cognitive and social interactions, increase creativity and motivation. Happier people live longer, are healthier and more productive, etc. Various measures are taken to increase people’s happiness, but all of them are related to sustainable development and environmental quality. This shows that culture and aesthetically, functionally arranged environment have a positive effect on a person.

Under the EU-funded ROCK project, real-time sensors are being installed in the city center to capture passers-by  “Vilnius creates happiness. However, today, this sounding phrase is already measurable and data-based. Sensors recording the happiness index show that the mood of Vilnius residents during the New Year holidays, Kaziukas fair, light festival or celebrating the restoration of Lithuania’s independence rises sharply, and decreases after the holiday. Vilnius residents feel happier when they travel and return from work“, – says Dalia Bardauskienė, the head of the working group of the City of Vilnius.

In Lithuania and in the world, Vilnius is a leader in the field of innovation, positive knowledge and activities that raise the mood of the population. Happiness is a direct reflection of subjective reality. Happiness is positively influenced by the open arsenal of public spaces, cultural activities in the city and their interaction. The importance of this was particularly evident during the quarantine of COVID-19, when the happiness indicator decreased to 20.42% and boredom increased by 88.39%. The “spoiled mood” was lifted by Senamiestis, which became an open-air cafe during the pandemic, where music was played and safe conversations took place. As a result, the happiness index rose to 43.8%.

There is still a great need to work in the field of creating good emotions, so the direction of “Happy Vilnius”, which started in 2019, is still going on. It is believed that an aesthetic working well for the environment and a pleasant, good service of staff, explaining services and opportunities to people create a mood (it can be illustrated if possible). Currently, the emotions of Vilnius residents are measured not only in Senamiestis, but also in the central service center of the capital’s municipality, and during the season – on the city’s beaches. This makes it possible to assess the extent, to which urban events or the quality of services determine the emotions and data obtained to use them to improve quality.

The sensors capture depersonalized data in nine locations in the capital, including the building of the City of Vilnius

It is collected and analyzed by researchers from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University led by Professor Artūras Kaklauskas who has dedicated many years to research in this field. The sensors installed by scientists measure people’s emotional state (how happy, sad, angry, surprised, frightened, disgusted are they), show valence (the difference between positive and negative emotions), excitement, whether the passers-by are interested-bored, as well as physiological data such as pulsation, respiratory rate and facial temperature

9 municipalities, 5 universities, business associations, companies, experts participated in the ROCK project. Vilnius VGTU researchers and the municipality were chosen by the partners as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the exemplary cities that can convey their experience and scientific knowledge to other cities. Currently, the EU-funded Rock project has been completed, but further testing of intelligent products developed by VGTU researchers in practice continues.