Using Google Street View to See A City’s Personality – Next American City
No two cities are exactly the same, but some enjoy distinct looks that makes them unmistakable. Think of Parisian balconies with cast-iron banisters, chimneyed townhouses lining the streets of London, or the water towers and fire escapes of New York. Small quirks like these can add up to make a city instantly familiar to anyone in the world.
With this in mind, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a software programto determine exactly which features give certain cities their unique architectural character.
Using everyone’s favorite vicarious vacation dream machine, Google Street View, the researchers developed an algorithm that detects elements, such as a window, column or balcony, that are both distinct and occur with regularity inside a city. As explained in anaccompanying video, this disqualifies singular landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, whose iron angles are distinct but don’t occur anywhere else in Paris. It also allows the program to ignore aspects like blank walls, which can be frequent but dull.