Sound and the city. How can you map sounds?

Chatty map of sounds - Geoawesomeness

Visualizing geotagged data can reveal a unique spatial pattern that might allow you and/or decision makers to make choices based on knowledge. We’ve seen maps of different phenomena like diplomacy networks, human activity, the age of buildings, adultery, or even sights of Virgin Mary. But how can one map sounds of a city?

The most straightforward approach would include listening to urban sounds, measuring and interpreting it but the scale of that kind of project would make it hardly doable. Another approach that has been implemented a few months back by Trulia, includes mapping noise complaints.


The new project called Chatty Maps looks at the same topic from a different angle. The maps were created by mining Flickr for geo-tagged images containing sound-related words. The researchers started with creating a library of sound-related words which they were looking in the description of photos. These words are taken from Freesound, the largest crowdsourced online repository of audio samples and then categorized into six types: transport, nature, human, music, mechanical, and indoor sounds.

Chatty map of sounds 2 - GeoawesomenessEach of the street on the maps is colored according to what kind of noise is mostly associated with it. Blue means human-related sounds, red stands for transportation, green for nature, yellow for music, and gray for construction. When you click on a particular street, you get its sound profile. Everything is nicely done in CartoDB.

For now, the maps are available for New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Miami, Seattle, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, and Rome.

Cool project.

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Microsoft and Amazon interested in investing in HERE

HERE - mapping van

In August 2015 Audi, BMW and Daimler acquired HERE – Nokia’s mapping brand – for  €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) which was the biggest mapping deal since… well… since Nokia acquired HERE (formerly known as Navteq) for €5.7 billion ($8.1 billion) back in 2007.

The decrease in value might be really sticking but one must remember that in the same year Apple released the first iPhone with free of charge Google Maps app which totally changed the navigation industry. The acquisition of HERE by German car makers is also an indicator that things in the industry are about to change… and the change is related to driverless cars.

There are four components needed for a self-driving car to become a reality on roads around the world: hardware (cars with a lot of sensors), software (smart algorithms that will safely interpret signals from these sensors), legislation (laws which will allow the car to drive without a human driver), and… Maps which are needed for the car to know where to go and how to get there as car sensors are not enough to safely get you from A to B.

If fact without high-quality 3D maps there are no autonomous vehicles and the biggest car makers seems to understand it well. Last year we’ve seen Uber, Tesla and Toyota showing plans for their own mapping solutions. The idea is simple, each car collects huge amount data from GPS, cameras, lasers and other sensors. If properly used, this data could create a closed road change detection environment that would automatically update maps in a real-time. Where huge amount of data is collected (we talk about terabytes of date per car per year), efficient cloud computing and storage is needed. This why according to sourced related to Reuters both Microsoft and Amazon want to secure their interests and become the primary providers of cloud computing to HERE and possibly the automotive industry in general.

Meanwhile TomTom is also quietly building its own mapping solution for autonomous cars that already covers thousands of kilometres of roads in Germany and the US, Google is testing their own autonomous car and Apple seems to be joining the race as well… Interesting times…

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