What's Missed When Taking the Scenic Route?

An app that plots the most beautiful route across cities made news earlier this month, but one commenter worries about how taking the more scenic route could make it harder to improve quality of life in the "less-than-scenic" sections of cities.
July 22, 2014, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Rachel Jaffe has a dissenting take on the new app that directs users along the most scenic route across a city, rather than just the most direct or congestion free route. According to Jaffe, "although the algorithm was meant to showcase the beauty of cities, we must not forget what is covered up in this data-centric quest for the most aesthetic path." Moreover, "while well intentioned, this algorithm allows city residents to systematically bypass areas of poverty and blight, and it raises more than a few ethical questions about how emerging digital applications are changing the way people interact within cities."

After pointing out some of the limitations in the app's crowdsourcing technology (e.g., places produce different emotional responses during different periods of the day; different populations experience places differently), Jaffe goes on to lament the app's potential to marginalize already neglected populations.

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Published on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 in TheCityFix
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