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Assessing the Association between Overcrowding and Human Physiological Stress Response in Different Urban Contexts: a Case Study in Salzburg, Austria

Research output: Working paper/Preprint Working paperResearchpeer-review

Cities' increasing population and housing density have been associated with a higher risk of mental health problems, such as stress. This study employed wearable, personalised sensors (a wearable camera, Empatica 4 wristband and a smartphone-based GPS) to assess the association between overcrowding and human physiological stress response in four kinds of urban contexts (water area, transit area, green area, commercial area). This paper conducted a case study in Salzburg, Austria and recruited 26 participants. We used Mask R-CNN to detect human crowds, sitting facilities, vehicles and bikes from imagery and calculated a change score to assess human physiological stress responses based on galvanic skin response (GSR) and skin temperature from the wristband. Afterwards, we used statistical and spatial analysis to assess the relationships between the change score and the number of human crowds, sitting facilities, vehicles and bikes. This paper confirmed that natural contexts could mitigate the adverse effects of overcrowding and explored areas where human crowds, sitting facilities, vehicles and bikes are positively associated with humans' physiological stress responses. Lastly, we proposed urban design approaches to minimise overcrowding and benefit humans' mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2022

    Research areas

  • wearable device, machine learning, urban health, urban design

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