Happy? Glum? The town hall wall knows all

Lithuanian capital installs happiness barometer updated in real time


It’s hard not to be jealous of Lithuanians right now as they install the world’s first “happiness barometer” which will allow 520,000 people in the capital Vilnius let their leaders know exactly how they are feeling in real time with the help of a massive telly on the town hall wall.

The giant measure of happiness is the brain child of city’s mayor Arturas Zuokas. It will carry a guage which goes from one to 10 and residents will be encouraged to express how they feel at any given moment by sending a message to the screen using their phones or computers.

The happy system is already running on televisions in the lobby of the municipal office but this is the first time it will be taken on to the streets.

“This barometer is a great tool for politicians. If we take a decision and see a sharp fall in the mood of the city, then we know we have done something horribly wrong,” Zuokas said.

Right now the barometer is hovering between six and seven points which isn’t too bad given that, in 2011, 58 countries took part in a happiness survey and Lithuania was found to be among the saddest countries in the world with only Serbia, Palestine, Egypt and Romania proving to be glummer.

This is not the first time Zoukas has made headlines outside his homeland. Two years ago a youtube clip of him driving over an illegally parked car in a tank – yes, an actual tank – went viral.

Speaking at the time he said he “I wanted to send a clear message that people with big and expensive cars can’t park wherever they feel like and ignore the rights of pedestrians and bike riders.

After the car had been totalled, the owner is seen coming out of a shop to be confronted by the mayor who shakes his hand sadly and warns him not to park his car illegally again before he leaves the scene on his bike.

Sadly, the whole thing was a set-up and no cars were hurt in the making of his movie.

Still, he made his point.