Thrive Zones - areas designed for safety

An analysis that utilises different forms of digital media to map, monitor, and trace people’s behaviour and patterns of movement in selected areas of Copenhagen.



Several areas of Copenhagen are affected by a high concentration of noise and air pollution. At the same time, many of these areas are popular places to hang out amongst locals. The ambition for this project is to develop alternative spaces that can creatively protect users of these areas from pollution while offering a healthy and safe framework to be. The project is developed in collaboration with ICLEI Google and Gehl Architects.


Backscatter’s role in the project was to conduct analyses that would give insight into how different city spaces were being used, by who, at what time, as well as which discourses the areas were associated with. By harvesting 10,000 data points from Google Places, 5,000 geo-localised posts from Instagram and three years of debate posts from local Facebook groups, we gained a deeper understanding of the patterns found in how people use different areas of the city, and what characteristics users seek out most in public spaces. We looked specifically at spaces within Ørestaden and Islands Brygge.


The analysis made it possible to define local users’ preferred spaces in terms of characteristics, identities, and specific functions. The results provided architects and city planners a solid foundation for designing alternative and inviting spaces that can guide the user to where the air is cleaner.