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Where do you find peace in your city?
Kevin Ebbutt

Kevin Ebbutt

How innovative developers can use location intelligence to improve your quality of life…

Where do you go in your city when you're looking for some tranquility and fresh air to breathe? Are your streets so noisy and polluted you simply stick on your noise cancelling headphones and hide under your covers? With your smog mask still on?!

Could location intelligence help you find some peace? The answer's yes, with a little help from developers. Location intelligence doesn't have to be all about helping drivers avoid traffic congestion and unexpected road closures, it can be put to some very different – and, some might say, more positive – uses.

Show me the tranquility

In the case of one particular web app – Tranquil Pavement London – location intelligence can be used to show where you can go to escape the air and noise pollution of the United Kingdom's busy capital.

The Tranquil Pavement London app, a project between Outlandish and Tranquil City, is centered around a map of air and noise pollution in London that also uses map markers to show tranquil places that have been crowd-sourced from Instagram.

Tranquil london

The app is ever evolving as users are encouraged to add tranquil spaces to the map.

Working the location data

The developers used a dataset of 5.85 million points to create their map, which draws from three sources of data – Open Street Map vector tiles for the base map, Defra Noise Mapping England and the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory for the pollution data.

The datasets were then loaded into the open source mapping software QGIS and combined to produce a noise and air pollution estimate for each Ordnance Survey grid square in London.

Finding the right way

The challenge for the Tranquil Pavement developers was how to effectively display this data. Heatmaps were considered, but they felt this kind of map is more appropriate when information is represented by the density of data point. They settled for a system of data dots which through a sliding scale of green shades show the noise and air pollution.

Concentrating on user experience

The next question was whether to deploy the map to the web application by setting up a tile server or through pre-rendering the map to static images. A better user experience and good performance with a small, low cost server swayed the developers to the static image option.

To open the platform up to more subjective parameters, a second layer uses crowdsourced photos on Instagram or Twitter with the #tranquilcitylondon hashtag, which have been scraped from the Instagram/Twitter API.

The Tranquil Pavement app illustrates just what can be done by innovative developers who are inspired to use location intelligence to help improve people's lives in cities. We'd love to hear of more examples.

How can HERE help you? We has plenty of different options to help developers build location-aware apps and services

You can quickly integrate fresh maps and location features into your applications with Maps API for JavaScript.

HERE REST APIs provide you with everything you need to put location at the heart of your app – maps, weather, batch geocoding and advanced location features such as geofencing.

While with HERE Mobile SDKs you can integrate location features into your apps with online/offline capabilities, beautiful pre-built UIs and personalization options.