1.1 Citizens' concerns

Map health problems through the SYMPTOMS MAPPING TOOL

People involved:



30 minutes

Imagine you are with a group of people and you want to ask them what health and environmental problems they experience in their city.

How can you gather such information and make everyone reflect upon them?

Symptoms Mapping Tool

During a co-creation workshop or an event you can organise a hands-on activity to gather the opinions of all participants. Making visible what information others have contributed to can foster unexpected conversations and reflections among participants. Maps are useful tools in this regard, as they provide spatial information and enable informal conversations of various people who stand around the artifact.

The story below shows a practical example of an activity that uses a map and is easy to implement.

Discover the tool in action!

Using the SYMPTOMS MAPPING TOOL in a workshop


Cities-Health Barcelona


Ideas for Change, ISGlobal


This is an activity suitable for a co-creation workshop or an event. It consists in asking participants to map environmental problems and health symptoms that they experience in different areas of their city. Participants populate a map of the geographical areas with stickers that represent different problems. The resulting map provides valuable insights on citizens’ concerns, thus showing areas of interest for the intervention.


Investigate perceived symptoms of citizens due to any environmental issue, by district of the city.


Prepare the materials. You will need a large paper map of the geographical area at stake and stickers with different icons that represent problems that may exist.  You can create stickers for environmental and health problems, for instance: noise, air, odour, crowded place, headache, respiratory difficulty, tiredness, nausea, itchy eyes, cough, sleep disorder. Print some empty stickers as well in case participants want to add a new problem.

Prepare the space. Either in conjunction with a public workshop or in other public events, create a separate space for engagement where you will place the large map of the city and the symptoms cards.

Place the stickers on the map. Ask citizens and representatives of various institutions to map perceived symptoms across the city’s districts. Participants place the stickers in locations of the city that they perceive to be affected by the problem.

Gather further unstructured inputs. Keep the conversation with participants going to gather additional annotations that can further explain the symptoms. Annotate this on post-its. Keep in mind that if the number of participants is high, it becomes difficult to keep the pins and post-its in order.

Analyse the results. Derive insights by analysing symptoms by district.

Get the toolbox!

We share with you some of the tools that can be useful to carry out this activity.

Symptoms Cards

Environmental problems cards