MIT Media Lab : Place Pulse

How safe does this street look?

Published On
Aug 14, 2011
Place Pulse

Editor's Pick

From MIT Media Lab comes Place Pulse, a website that is running a crowd-sourced perception study based on how places look.

The survey is designed to address our perceptions and judgements about environments, and help guide the decision of urban planners. It was inspired by the work of Kevin Lynch, who published "The Image of the City" in 1960 and established how people perceive and create mental models of the cities they inhabit. It is run by Phil Salesses, Anthony Devincenzi and Cesar Hidalgo, all of the MIT Media Lab, and Mauro Martino of Northeastern University Center for Complex Network Research.

Using images from Google Streetview, it presents participants with two side-by-side images of different streets, and asks three questions: 'Which place looks more unique?'; 'Which place looks more upper class?'; and 'Which place looks safer?'. The data collected is being put into graphs - results will be available soon.

MIT says the data could lead to 'an increased understanding of perception from a more broad societal point of view' so that 'it may be possible for targeted changes, such as cleaning building facades and removing trash, but deciding to leave graffiti as-is.'