If you think peace and quiet and the crowd are un-natural bed fellows, you would be right. Peace and quiet is more normally associated with being away from others, which in a large city can be difficult. This is where the crowd can come in.
A new project called Stereopublic is turning to the crowd to create urban maps of quiet and tranquil places. People can do this by downloading the free iPhone app. This app enables them to become ‘earwitnesses’, logging and recording quiet spaces when they discover them. A GPS co-ordinate of their location is added to the Stereopublic map alongside a 30 second audio clip of the place and a photo.
The team are then pooling together the suggestions to create quiet tours of each participating city (currently including the likes of London, New York and around 30 other cities. A quick perusal of the London map revealed some rather peculiar choices. For instance horse guards parade was included on the map, despite being generally pretty active with tourists. Most of the other places were either in parks or museums, so few real hidden gems, with around 10 spots added to the map thus far, so still very early days.
Nevertheless, the concept was sufficient to win the $10,000 TEDPrize City 2.0 award in 2012. You can see a bit more about the project via the video below. As with most crowd based efforts, the true value comes when it becomes widely used, although I suppose you then run the risk of spoiling those quiet spots by drawing too many people to them. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.