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Researchers developing GPS routes based on scenery

by GPS4US 2014-07-17 10:50

If this is the future of GPS, we’re all for it.

Yeah, we can get to our destination via the quickest route. Or by the route that covers the least
amount of ground. But what about the scenic route? Yep, it’s sometimes good to slow down and look
around the world. Take some nature in. Be one with the earth.

So a lab in Barcelona is developing a scientific method to determine the most beautiful walking route
in a city.

They’re using millions of geotagged pictures from the photo sharing site Flickr to map out London and
Boston. They’re using 3.7 million photos for London and 1.7 million for Boston. After dividing each
city into 200x200 meter cells, they assign a beauty score based on the sentiment expressed by the
Flickr tags. The cells with the best score are added to your route.

Imagine your next Garmin nuvi giving you the most beautiful route home from work each day, or telling
you where you can find gorgeous greenery on your daily walk. That’s not a bad world to live in.

This is actually what was done by three researchers as explained in a scientific paper they published
earlier this month: “The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in
the City.“

Daniele Quercia and Luca Maria Aiello from Yahoo Lab in Barcelona associated with Rossano Schifanella
from the University of Torino have developed a way to scientifically determine the most beautiful
walking route from A to B in a given city.

To do that they have analyzed geotagged Flickr pictures metadata: 3.7 million for London and 1.3
million for Boston, the two cities where they trialled this routing approach.

They divided the cities in small cells of 200x200 meters and created for each cell a “beauty score“
based on the sentiment expressed by the tags associated with Flickr pictures. Then they automatically
created the shortest routes from A to B using the cells that had the best beauty score and which added
only a few walking minutes to the shortest route.

The researchers validated their approach by getting the shortest and the most beautiful route tested by
30 people in London and 54 in Boston which confirmed the value of their Flickr data analysis.

This scientific paper could open some interesting developments for GPS navigation, be it walking or
driving. The exponential growth of geotagged data (pictures or others) associated with all kind of
metadata clearly offers opportunities to make that possible. Should digital map makers add a beauty
score to their list of road attribute? Clearly they should!

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