A screenshot of the Chatty Maps online interactive for New York, one of 12 metros mapped by global research team GoodCityLife according to street-level noise.
A screenshot of the Chatty Maps online interactive for New York, one of 12 metros mapped by global research team GoodCityLife according to street-level noise.

From the researchers who brought you metro areas mapped by smell comes a new collection of soundscapes that classifies 12 cities by the noise perceptible at street level, color coded by source—such as transportation, nature, humans, music, or buildings. The team from the international research firm GoodCityLife indexed files from the public, online audio repository Freesound that were tagged with sound-related words and then looked at similarly tagged Flickr images from the metro area they were mapping to pinpoint where those words (and, therefore, those sounds) were clustered. The result is Chatty Maps, which capture everything from the jolting rev of a motorcycle engine, classified under transportation, to the subtle sound of rainfall, which would be labeled as nature. The researchers then took to social media, looking to attribute human feelings and experiences to locations on the map where the different sounds were recorded—for example, human-related noises such as laughter or talking were most commonly linked to images related to joy or surprise—in order to identify emotions conjured up by the sounds at street level. Users of the Web-based, interactive maps can click on a street, such as Broadway Avenue, in New York (shown above), to determine what percentage of the overall noise comes from which source, and what emotions it has been shown to conjure among passersby. The goal, Wired explains, is to layer emotional intelligence atop the host of data collected by cities today. So far, the team has created interactive maps for Barcelona, Boston, Chicago, London, Madrid, Miami, Milan, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Rome, and Washington, D.C. [Wired + Chatty Maps]

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