Digital tourism: Flickr knows best

30 Apr 2009

The wisdom of the crowd works incredibly well for certain things: as that famous album cover said: ‘10,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong’. So what about 307,448 Flickr users?

When it comes to globetrotting and sightseeing, having a look at what others are snapping and uploading onto photo-sharing sites such as Flickr is certainly a valuable exercise, but until now there were no real metrics to see exactly what cities, landmarks etc were most photographed and therefore more likely to make a popular holiday destination.

However, researchers at Cornell University in the US have downloaded almost 34 million images (terabytes of the stuff!) are are accurately geo-tagged and specific to the locality of all the major cities around the world.

From this, the university was able to compile a list of popular places that tourists, sightseers and other photographers go to get snap happy.

In addition, the sheer amount of images with geo-tags and text tags can be used to extract visual descriptions that can help to find a representative image of the landmark in question.

This technology could then be used to compile an online visual guide to interesting places worth visiting.

Other noteworthy results from Cornell’s study were the list of 25 most photographed cities in the world: while New York and London were the top two, Dublin came in at 24.

And the most photographed landmark in Dublin on Flickr? O’Connell Street! Now you can’t really criticise the Spire any more, can you?

The top most photographed landmark in the world was the Eiffel Tower, but interestingly the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York was the 28th most photographed landmark. (Ed – I have about 10 pictures of this on my Flickr account and not one of the Spire!)

By Marie Boran