Gauging urban change with Google Street View

Friday, July 28, 2017 - 11:42 in Mathematics & Economics

Nikhil Naik, Scott Duke Kominers, and their collaborators are hoping to transform the way scientists study urban environments, with an assist from Google. In joint work with Edward L. Glaeser, the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard, and César A. Hidalgo and Ramesh Raskar, associate professors at the MIT Media Lab, Kominers, an associate professor in the entrepreneurial management unit at Harvard Business School (HBS) and the department of economics, and Naik, a Prize Fellow in economics, history, and politics, authored a study that uses computer vision algorithms to examine millions of Google Street View images to measure how urban areas are changing. “Lots of people, including social scientists and urban planners, are interested in studying why places evolve and how much change happens in different cities,” Naik said. “But there is a lack of data on the physical aspects of urban change.” That’s where Google Street View imagery comes...

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