Pedestrian polling

A holy grail in the field of geospatial science is the emotion map. Ideally, this is a real-time map showing where people are located and how they feel, presumably colour-coded by emotion. I don’t know if they have any practical uses, but they’d be a nice way to gauge the mood of a city.

The problem is, these maps are almost impossible to generate. Previous attempts have relied on volunteers carrying some kind of recording device which may periodically ask them how they feel, or perhaps record their heart rate and skin conductivity and try to infer their emotional state from that. Unfortunately, these approaches result in a very small sample size, typically skewed toward university students, and they are never on-going projects.

So I thought, if you want to know how people feel, why not just ask them?

The idea is to place a highway-style lane-selection sign over a reasonably wide stretch of footpath, with a motion sensor covering each of the “lanes”. Whenever someone walks under one of the three options it beeps and records their selection. Sure, it wouldn’t record spatial information like an ideal emotion map, but you’d get a large and unbiased population sample, and you could always deploy a few of them around a city.

The nice thing about this setup is that once it’s deployed it’s fairly easy to change the signs and ask different questions. I am feeling … focussed/frisky/meh. AFL premiers 2012 … Hawks/Swans/Who cares?

Not only would it provide useful data to city planners, I suspect it would be popular with pedestrians. I mean, how nice would it be to have an interactive city that cares about your opinions?

One Comment on “Pedestrian polling”

  1. PG says:

    A “do not track” lane would be nice 😉

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