Saturday, September 3, 2016

Using Computer Vision to Measure the Quality and Impact of Urban Appearance

Interesting paper on computer vision & urban economics, by Cesar Hidalgo and colleagues. Ungated version here.

Naik, N., Raskar, R., & Hidalgo, C. A. (2016). Cities Are Physical Too: Using Computer Vision to Measure the Quality and Impact of Urban AppearanceThe American Economic Review, 106(5), 128-132.


Abstract
For social scientists, developing an empirical connection between the physical appearance of a city and the behavior and health of its inhabitants has proved challenging due to a lack of data on urban appearance. Can we use computers to quantify urban appearance from street-level imagery? We describe Streetscore: a computer vision algorithm that measures the perceived safety of streetscapes. Using Streetscore to evaluate 19 American cities, we find that the average perceived safety has a strong positive correlation with population density and household income; and the variation in perceived safety has a strong positive correlation with income inequality.

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