XII.1 Smelly Maps

Daniel Quercia

Rossano Schifanella

Luca Maria Aiello

What does your street smell like? Humans can differentiate thousands of different odors. Yet, city officials and urban planners deal only with the management of a few bad odors. In creating Smelly Maps, University of Turin computer science professor Rossano Schifanella and Bell Labs researchers Luca Maria Aiello and Daniele Quercia teamed up to introduce a new stream of research that celebrates the complex aromas of our cities and makes it possible to use this information in urban design.

To map urban smellscapes, the project team first created a lexicon of smell-related words. Then, they gathered geotagged social media posts from Flickr, Instagram, and Twitter that included smell-related words. Finally, the smells people posted about were mapped on each street segment.

Click on a street to see how it smells. As you might expect, nature smells are strong near parks and animal smells dominate at the zoo. Where do you find the strongest food smells?

To learn more about the Smelly Maps project, visit http://goodcitylife.org/smellymaps.


Aiello, Luca Maria, Rossano Schifanella, Daniele Quercia, and Francesco Aletta. 2016. “Chatty Maps: Constructing Sound Maps of Urban Areas from Social Media Data.” Royal Society Open Science 3: 150690. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150690.

Good City Life. 2016. “Chatty Maps.” Accessed November 28, 2016. http://goodcitylife.org/chattymaps/project.html.

Good City Life. 2016. “Happy Maps.” Accessed November 28, 2016. http://goodcitylife.org/happymaps/index.html.

Quercia, Daniele, Luca Maria Aiello, and Rossano Schifanella. 2016. “The Emotional and Chromatic Layers of Urban Smells.” In Proceedings of the Tenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM 2016). Palo Alto, CA: AAAI Publications. 309-318. Accessed November 28, 2016. https://arxiv.org/abs/1605.06721.

Quercia, Daniele, Rossano Schifanella, and Luca Maria Aiello. 2014. “The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in the City.” In Proceedings of the 25th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media (HT ’14). New York, NY: ACM Publications. 116-125. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2631799.

Quercia, Daniele, Rossano Schifanella, Luca Maria Aiello, and Kate McLean. 2015. “Smelly Maps: The Digital Life of Urban Smellscapes.” In Proceedings of the Ninth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM 2015). Palo Alto, CA: AAAI Publications. 327-336. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM15/paper/view/10572.

Quercia, Daniele, Rossano Schifanella, and Luca Maria Aiello. 2015. Smelly Maps. Courtesy of Goodcitylife.org. In “12th Iteration (2016): Macroscopes for Making Sense of Science, Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Lisel Record. http://scimaps.org.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.