The shortest path to happiness: Recommending beautiful, quiet, and happy routes in the city

Dec 31, 1969

When providing directions to a place, web and mobile mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest route. The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant. To quantify the extent to which urban locations are pleasant, we use data from a crowd-sourcing platform that shows two street scenes in London (out of hundreds), and a user votes on which one looks more beautiful, quiet, and happy. We consider votes from more than 3.3K individuals and translated them into quantitative measures of location perceptions. We arrange those locations into a graph upon which we learn pleasant routes. Upon a quantitative validation, we find that, compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes but are perceived to be beautiful, quiet, and happy. To test the generality of our approach, we consider Flickr metadata of more than 3.7M pictures in London and 1.3M in Boston, compute proxies for the crowdsourced beauty dimension (the one for which we have collected the most votes), and evaluate those proxies with 30 participants in London and 54 in Boston. These participants have not only rated our recommendations but have also carefully motivated their choices, providing insights for future work. [slideshare id=39046650&doc=ht14short-140913094803-phpapp02]