Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Europe Stinks

OdourCollect is an interactive map which is dedicated to recording the smells of the world. The map is part of a citizen science project to build an odour map of the world. Apparently, after noise complaints, bad smells are responsible for the second most environmental complaints across the globe. OdourCollect has been designed so that it can be used by communities which are affected by bad smells to systematically record and report the extent of bad odours.

Using OdourCollect five different categories of smell can be recorded simply by clicking on a location on an interactive map. These categories include waste, agricultural and food smells. The strength of these individual smells can be recorded, from very weak to extremely strong. The pleasantness of a smell can also be noted, using a scale from -4 (if the odour is really unpleasant) to +4 (if the odour is very nice).

Of course Europe isn't the only place on Earth which has distinctive odours. OdourCollect is running ten initial pilot projects in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Chile, Italy, UK, Germany, Austria and Uganda. However the application is already being used by people to map smells around the world. In fact the map already has smells reported in Africa, Asia, North & South America and Europe.

OdourCollect is not the first interactive map of smells. Back in 2015 Rossano Schifanella created three Smellscape maps plotting the dominant smells in three global cities. His three maps New York Smellscape, London Smellscape (the London map no longer seems to work) and Barcelona Smellscape colour individual city streets based on their dominant smells.

These smell maps were created by using smell related tags added to Flickr photographs of locations in the three mapped cities. Each street segment on the individual maps is coloured to reflect the most characteristic smell tagged in that area. Unfortunately Rossano's maps now don't seem to load the underlying map tiles. The maps also don't have legends, so we also now have to guess what smells the individual colours on the maps represent.

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