Online tool compares emotional responses to urban areas

Images from Google StreetView used to map how someone feels about the place

An online tool created by researchers at MIT maps people's emotional responses based on how they feel about a place using Google StreetView

An online tool, called Place Pulse, has been developed by researchers at MIT that places images of selected cities at random from Google StreetView, and then puts them side by side and requests a reponse from the user.

One of three questions is then asked to determine different results, "Which place looks safer?, "Which place looks more upper-class?" or "Which place looks more unique?"

Four cities were used for the study: New York, Boston, Linz and Salzburg. Results were then worked out by giving a score out of ten for each attribute.

Wired UK reports that the tools helps back-up the "broken-windows theory", which basically says that visible signs of neglect in an area makes someone feel that the place isn't looked after, which means crime is higher in these places.

The tool did face a limitation in that Google StreetView was compiled over different periods of time meaning the flow of traffic and people would be different, which could instill a different emotional response.

Cesar Hidalgo of MIT says, "One of the things that would be most interesting in the long run is to overlay these maps with expenditures of government, narrowly defined by the things that affect how places look, such as repaving roads, building parks, or putting cables underground."

Place Pulse can work towards working out what needs to be contributed to particular cities in terms of investments and lowering crime rates.

Source: Wired UK