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Maps Show a Tourist’s-Eye View of Cities

(Credit: Beñat Arreg)

What does your city look like through the eyes of tourists? A new project from data visualizer Beñat Arreg aims to answer that question with publicly accessible Airbnb ratings superimposed as bright colors on city maps.

Arreg’s project looks at how visitors pick up subtle (and not-so-subtle) cues from the built environment to assess the cityscape. It was partially inspired by a trip to Athens, Inverse reports.

“I was told by my host not to go [to the north side of the city] because it was dangerous or not worth seeing. So I was curious and went there,” he recently told the site. The area felt safe but was run down. Stores were closed and streets were nearly empty.

His mapping project has underscored that experience. Dozens of Airbnb users gave their accommodations on the north side of Athens low reviews, but centrally located hosts were given more stars. According to Inverse:

The status of street lamps that illuminate paths at night, the variety of commercial and residential buildings, and other aspects of the built environment all subtly indicate the socioeconomic status of a neighborhood. If machine learning can crack this code, a flock of tourists can do it, too.

Arreg’s maps show Airbnb’s star ratings from green to mauve, with green representing a 5-star rating and mauve indicating less than 2.5 stars. His website lists 14 cities, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Paris, San Francisco and Venice. See all his maps here.