Scientists affiliated with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University have found a way to use Flickr photos to help measure the benefits and value that the natural areas provide to society.
The researchers utilized information from 1.4 million geo-tagged images in Flickr, and the user profiles associated with them, to see where people were going and where they were coming from.
They compared the information to data from on-site surveys at 836 recreational sites around the world and found that the information from Flickr can serve as a reliable indicator of how many people visit a tourist attraction each year and when they are visiting.
Lead author of the study, Spencer Wood said that the research shows how information from crowd-sourced social media is revolutionizing the way people are studied and their choices understood.
Lead scientist at the project, Anne Guerry said that no one has been able to crack the problem of figuring out visitation rates and values for tourism and recreation without on-site studies until now.
The social-media approach to get ideas of where people are visiting, and where they are coming from, is faster, less expensive and better for looking at changes over time and space.
It also provides the chance to clarify what attracts people to natural areas, and to determine if changes in ecosystems lead to changes in visitation rates.
--ANI (Posted on 22-10-2013)