Why City Planners Might Want to Talk to More Women

Researchers use an image database and cell phone data to determine areas of a city that people consider safe. Does danger really lurk in darkened alleyways and on desolate streets? Most of us just trust our gut when wandering in unfamiliar areas, but researchers are using a machine learning-enhanced image database and cell phone data to determine urban characteristics that people seem to fear most, which they believe could help with city planning. In a paper presented last week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Multimedia Conference, researchers at the MIT Lab, as well as the University of Trento and the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Italy, explained that “safety scores” assigned by people—and now software programs—to images of Rome and Milan in a database lined up nicely with areas that…


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