Does living in picturesque areas have a quantifiable effect on our wellbeing? Urban planners and think tanks have puzzled over this question for years, but have been held back by a lack of data on the beauty of our environment.
Research into the influence of outdoor environments on our wellbeing has mostly been limited to using datasets of objective properties such as green land cover, tree density and population density. However, data on people’s subjective experience of the environment may provide valuable insights into how aesthetics may relate to our wellbeing. The vast quantity of geotagged images uploaded to the Internet provides a basis for gathering novel and comprehensive data on how humans perceive and interpret their natural and built environment.
In this research project we use crowdsourced data from online platforms such as Flickr and Scenic-Or-Not* to quantify how the aesthetics of the natural and built environment influences wellbeing, including health, happiness and low mental distress. How might we adapt the appearance of the environment in which we live in order to better the wellbeing of citizens worldwide?
*You can contribute to this research project by rating scenic images here: http://scenicornot.datasciencelab.co.uk/