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Partnership with Fitbit Promotes Community Wellbeing

November 1, 2017 5:30 PM
by Lisa Parson

Partnership with Fitbit Promotes Community Wellbeing

Residents from 90404 are pictured with their new Fitbits, which will monitor their activity levels in the coming months.

On October 28, the Office of Wellbeing kicked off an exciting pilot project to address the findings from the Wellbeing Index. The findings indicate that 62% of Santa Monicans are only active less than 20 minutes a day, and that residents in 90404 had the lowest rates of physical activity in the City along with the highest rates of feeling lonely. While the data is important, taking action on the findings is what really matters.

In this case, we got to work using the relationships we’ve built through creating the country’s first Wellbeing Index and pulled together an exciting approach to begin to move the needle on the findings above. The keywords for the pilot are: Data, Action, Connection. On the data front, we knew that to really understand these issues, we needed more data. So when we were approached by a research partner who specialized in making use of public health data from wearable technology (Apple watches, Fitbits, etc.), we jumped on the chance to collaborate.

Our team got Fitbit to donate 200 Fitbit Altas' for data collection in the research project. Then it was time to take Action. We reached out to residents of 90404 through emails, flyers, and in person outreach at community events to build a group of 200 willing participants who would receive free Fitbits in exchange for sharing their data with the City.

90404 residents receive and set up their Fitbits.

Finally, it was time to make the connection. We know from wellbeing research that community connectedness is a key factor in improving health, addressing loneliness, and reducing stress. Distributing the Fitbits gave us a great opportunity to connect our residents to each other. On October 28, we had participants come 50 at a time and grouped them at tables based on their addresses to receive and set up their Fitbits. Within minutes of arriving, people were meeting their neighbors and making new connections. We saw walking groups form, phone numbers exchanged, and a growing sense of community. Those connections grew deeper as participants took part in their choice of a dance class, a stretch class, or a community walk to get their first 20 minutes of activity logged into their Fitbits to see how easy it was to get moving and how fun it was to track their stats in their new devices.

Over the next six months, we will collect data from the Fitbits that will help us better understand the health and activity levels of our residents and about what gets people outside and moving. We’ll also keep working to build connections between our participants to make sure we’re doing everything we can to increase community wellbeing.

Stay tuned for follow up information on the pilot with Fitbit!

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