Friday, June 11 2010

Locals and Tourists

Flickr user Eric Fischer has done a very nice bit of data-mining in his Locals and Tourists set, analyzing geotagged photos and overlaying them on city maps, color-coded based on how much time the photographer spent in the city (blue for “locals”, red for “tourists”, yellow for unknown).

The details of his data sources and processing are not included, but the background street map can be used to overlay his images on Google Earth, making it possible to visually survey the hot spots, and the results can be quite interesting.

Random notes about Tokyo:

  • Only tourists take pictures from the top of Tokyo Tower; locals shoot from nearby.
  • His source data includes many pictures from Japan’s train-otaku community.
  • There are a lot of very photogenic temples and gardens that tourists rarely find.
  • The residential district north and west of Youga Station (west edge of the map) must have an incredible smartphone density. I’m guessing lots of upwardly-mobile young couples live there, judging from the number of women with strollers that were captured by the Google street view car. [Update! Almost all by one very busy guy on Flickr]
  • The area south of Musashinitta Station is probably similar. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if all those pictures are being taken by stroller-equipped young mothers. [Update! nope, it’s another very busy guy]
  • The Shiomi Koyama Building is an inexplicably popular location for locals taking pictures. Good views of Sazanami Bridge? Mitsubishi employees taking pictures during lunch hour? Product testing? Dunno. [Update! The pictures are actually from the apartment building next door, and are all of someone’s cat]
  • Yasukuni Shrine gets a lot of traffic from all three groups. Also, the current view in Google Earth comes from late afternoon on December 31st, so the place is packed for New Years Eve.
  • Only tourists take pictures of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan.
  • Tokyo Disneyland leans a bit towards tourists, but also gets a lot of traffic from locals and unknowns. The nearby Kasai Seaside Park, however, is for locals.

So far, I’ve had less success getting a precise match on his Kyoto map, but I’m off by less than a block in most parts of it, so I can still see some interesting places to explore.

[Update: Something I found around Kyoto, by looking for isolated clusters of locals. It was taken at Yoshimine Temple; not an easy place to get to, but obviously worth the trip.]

[Ah, and found his data]