Happy City: Shortest Urban Paths or Shortcuts to Happiness?

Daniele Quercia (Bell Labs)
Government/Open Data
Location: 212
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When providing directions to a place, web and mobile mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest route. At times, however, when visiting a friend, we do not necessarily take the fastest route but might enjoy alternatives that, for example, offer beautiful urban sceneries. We have recently started to work on a framework that automatically generates routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant (e.g., that are happy). To quantify the extent to which urban scenes are pleasing, this framework uses a crowd-sourcing web platform that shows two street scenes of a city and let users vote on which one looks more beautiful, quiet, and happy. Such crowd-sourced ground truth allows us to build a graph of locations, weighted by the pleasantness scores, upon which pleasant routes can be extracted. We have initially applied this framework in the context of London and have obtained promising preliminary results.

Photo of Daniele Quercia

Daniele Quercia

Bell Labs

Daniele Quercia is a social media researcher at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona. Before that, he was a Horizon senior researcher at The Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. He is interested in the relationship between online and offline worlds and his work has been focusing in the areas of data mining, computational social science, and urban informatics. His research has been published in leading venues including ICSE, Ubicomp, ICDM, CSCW, RecSys, WSDM, and WWW, received honorable mentions from AAAI ICWSM, and has been featured on La Repubblica, The Independent, New Scientist, Le Monde, and BBC. He spoke at TEDx Barcelona and Falling Walls Berlin, and wrote for BBC. He was Postdoctoral Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he worked on social networks in a city context, and his PhD thesis at UC London was nominated for BCS Best British PhD dissertation in Computer Science. During his PhD, he was a Microsoft Research PhD Scholar and MBA Technology Fellow of London Business School, and he also interned at the National Research Council in Barcelona and at National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo. He studied at Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), and University of Illinois (USA).