Ever step outside for your morning jog and wonder which way to go? Well, there’s an app for that. If you live in Central London, New York, Paris, Glasgow, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, or Toronto, there is now Walkonomics. Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of jogging and leisure walking, the creators of Walkonomics have rated your potential walk based on the categories “road safety, easy to cross, pavement/sidewalk, hilliness, navigation, fear of crime, smart & beautiful and fun & relaxing.”
These ratings are based on open data including crime statistics, street dimensions, traffic patterns, pedestrian accidents, and landscape. Walkers are encouraged to rate the routes they take and even provide pictures as reference. What’s interesting is that, as users continue to rate their routes, the data collected improves the function of the app. As more feedback is collected, the accuracy of the app improves; what people find enjoyable becomes more clear.
Walkonomics aims to refine the data as to what makes one route more beautiful than the next. Similar websites and apps have existed for years, but Walkanomics aims to be different in that respect. Not only does it count hard facts, but also your opinion. In this way, the app is also an observation tool collecting data that has yet to be fully analyzed.
As of now, the app is still in its early stages, and some of the user interface and route selections are less than perfect, but overall, it shows the potential to become truly unique. As more people use it, the usefulness and interest in the ratings will grow. A wonderful article on the app written by Liz Camuti can be found here. She raises good questions and shares her experience with Walkinomics.
For instance, she raises an interesting point. The app had the “fastest route” going through Central Park, NYC, while the “most beautiful” route went around Central Park. Isn’t a walk through the park presumably more pleasurable than around it? Is this because there are statistically more trees along the border of the park? Maybe it’s because of the crime statistics within the park? One can only speculate.
More trees does not necessarily make for a more beautiful walk. Crime levels may vary depending on time of day; walking through the park at night probably isn’t advisable. But, when I used Walkonomics to plot a few routes to routine locations, I did find it taking me on generally nicer and more pleasant walks. Beauty and speed are on a sliding scale which gives you the option of choosing a variety of routes. A nice feature is “WalkHood,” which highlights places within five minutes that you may not have thought about otherwise.
Overall, a fun app that will improve over time and could get more people talking. And walking.